If courts can show mercy, why can’t Mahama - Arthur K

Dr Arthur Kobina Kennedy has said if Ghana’s courts can be merciful toward convicted criminals, then President John Mahama who has constitutional powers to show mercy to prisoners should not be flayed for also showing mercy to the Montie 3.

Mr Mahama recently granted remission for the remainder of the four-month jail term imposed on Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn and Salifu Maase by the Supreme Court after serving one month. The three are expected to be freed on Friday.

Since the government announced the remission, opposition leaders and parties have kicked against the decision and accused President Mahama of acting for political expediency. Some lawyers have also said the president’s action sets a bad precedent.

However, Dr Kennedy said in an article that although he is opposed to the remission granted the three; Mr Mahama cannot be faulted for exercising his constitutional powers.

Below is Dr Kennedy’s full article:

Dr. Arthur Kobina Kennedy writes...............


Let me begin this by restating that I was and remain opposed to the President's pardon because while constitutional, it was not prudent.

However, the reactions to it have been over the top and reckless. Indeed, these reactions have the chance to do more harm to our constitutional order than the pardons. If the courts charged with dispensing justice can be merciful, why can’t the President who has the mandate to show mercy be merciful?

You would think the President just staged his second coup, with apologies to the title of his first book.

The leaders of the Judicial Service workers issued a statement that "we will not allow this to dampen our spirits". Really? And their spirits have never been dampened by the pardon of murderers? Was their spirit dampened by the corrupt judges?

Then Hon. Ayikoi Otoo, a former Attorney General and counsel for Sir John, who immortalised himself before court in his plea for mercy invoking "Gbesie" opined that the pardons showed that the President is only a President for NDC members. Really, honourable? If you had lost the plea for mercy on behalf of Sir John, would you not have asked for a Presidential pardon? A lawyer who would plead for mercy before the courts but will not plead it before the President is a bad attorney and that is not Ayikoi Otoo.

John Ndebugre thinks it sets a bad constitutional precedent. What about all those pardons for murderers? What about joining the PNDC regime that overthrew an elected government, comrade?

While all these were egregious, Hon. Atta Akyea, whose client went to jail for contempt takes the cake. He described the pardon as "constitutional lawlessness"!! Ebei, lawyer Atta Akyea. I did not go to Achimota and I am more familiar with a stethoscope than syntax but how can something that is constitutional be lawless?

All these lawyers should be explaining to us laypeople why the President's action is constitutional and consistent with the biblical and Shakespearean injunction to "temper justice with mercy", instead of confusing us. As for the NPP, it should be careful about the traps it is laying for future NPP presidents!!

We should focus on the learning points of this episode. The case should have been prosecuted by the AG before another court. The lawyers for the accused should have been more vigourous in their advocacy before the Supreme court.

The National Media Commission and media houses, together with GJA, should police the profession better. And finally, nobody who is not a government employee should be getting a paycheck from the government -- As Mugabe is alleged to be getting.

God bless you all and Ghana.