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28 July 2016

Sentencing of Montie squad should be a wake-up call for journalists – GJA

Mr Affail Monney, President of the Ghana Journalists AssociationThe Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has cautioned media practitioners to take a cue from Supreme Court (SC)’s sentencing of a presenter and two panelists of Accra-based Montie FM and desist from actions that taint the judiciary.

President of the GJA, Affail Monney, says it is important for journalists to recognise that their rights comes with responsibilities.

“We need to reflect on what has happened in the case of the journalist and the panelists, and know that as media practitioners we have a duty to educate, inform and entertain and these must be done with care,” he said.

The GJA President disclosed this in an interview with Francis Abban, host of Joy FM’s Midday News in reaction to SC’s sentencing of Salifu Maase, host of Montie FM’s Pampaso programme and two panelists, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn for contempt of court.

Mr Nelson and Ako Gunn with support from the host made contemptuous comments about the justices of the SC and threatened to murder them if their ruling in an electoral roll case brought against the Electoral Commission (EC) by a former National Youth Organiser of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Abu Ramadan and Evans Nimako does not favour the EC.

They singled out the Chief Justice Georgina Wood and Justice Nasiru Sulemana Gbedegbe as targets in the event their ruling plunges the nation into chaos.

The comments were made on the eve of the 34th Anniversary of Martyrs Day when three High Court judges were murdered under the cover of darkness by operatives of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC).

Mr Maase, Nelson, Ako Gunn and the directors of the station were summoned before the judges for the comments which the court said scandalised it and brought its name into disrepute.

The three were handed a four-month jail term and ordered to pay a fine of GH¢10,000 each by close of business tomorrow failure of which will attract an additional month jail sentence.

The owners of the station namely Edward Addo, Ato Ahwoi and Kwesi Kyei Atuah were fined GH¢30,000 and will have to make the payment by close of day tomorrow. Harry Zakour, owner of the frequency was separately fined 30,000 cedis.

The court has been praised for sanitizing the media landscape in the country with its sentencing especially with the increasing rate of foul language in the media.

Even though Mr Monney was not happy with the jail term handed to the journalist and the two panelists, he said it provides a lesson for media practitioners.

“We are bleeding now because some of our people are going to jail,” but we have to move on and do what is right.

“We have latitudes as media practitioners in the course of our practice but we have to know that there are legal landmines and potholes which we should not fall into,” he advised journalists.

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