Ghana jails radio presenter, panellists for hate speech
29 July 2016, 08:16
Accra - Ghana's Supreme Court has jailed a radio presenter and his two panellists for threatening to kill judges who ordered names to be removed from the voters' register ahead of the December general elections.
Judge Sophia Akuffo on Wednesday sentenced Salifu Maase alias "Mugabe" of Accra-based station Montie FM and two pro-government panelists, Allistair Nelson and Godwin Ako-Gunn, to four months' jail and a fine of $2 500.
The judge said they had attacked the court's integrity by threatening on air not to accept its ruling on the electoral register and to kill the judges.
Around 56 000 names were deleted from the electoral register after individuals used national health insurance cards as proof of identity.
Ghana's political opposition had complained that many names were fraudulent, as holders of health insurance cards do not necessarily have to be Ghanaian citizens.
The owners and directors of Montie FM were also fined by the court. "Mugabe" is known in Ghana for provocative comments on his show, which is invariably supportive of the ruling party.
Attorneys for the accused, who have pleaded freedom of speech, appealed for mercy and vowed to seek a presidential pardon.
"We do admit some of the statements uttered by some of our clients are unacceptable," lawyers Nana Ato Dadzie and George Loh said in a joint statement.
"We nevertheless consider custodial sentence of four months imposed by the Supreme Court as being excessive and harsh."
Ghana is to stage presidential and parliamentary polls on December 7.
The head of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), President John Dramani Mahama, is seeking a second, five-year term against Nana Akufo-Addo, of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).