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A most charged and spirited crusade is underway in earnest to free the Montie Three who have been imprisoned for contempt of the almighty Supreme Court, and everyone from Ministers of state through political activists and party hangers-on to traditional rulers with NDC sympathies, are tripping over each other all over the place to sign a petition for the release of the convicts.

While some have accused the Supreme Court of stretching the law of contempt rather too far in this particular case which they insist, relates to freedom of speech and expression, others have countered that threatening to kill people has nothing whatsoever to do with freedom of speech.

The threat of death is a serious criminal offence under the law, with a maximum penalty on conviction more severe than the maximum penalty for contempt, so it is probably significant that very few people are talking about that aspect of the case!

It does not matter whether the victim of the threat hunts grass cutters for a living, teaches chemistry or is a court judge, so why should any exception be made of the Supreme Court justices in this case, even if the court is within its rights to cite the three for contempt?

The Catholic Church has declared 2016 a Jubilee Year of Mercy and is beseeching nations and people worldwide to dispense generously of mercy, besides, forgiveness of others’ transgressions and even their wicked ways, should be an everyday business for everyone, we are told. Yet, even if under those circumstances, presidential pardon were granted the Montie Three as the petitioners are seeking, it should be out of compassion and not partisan political expediency or an indirect monkeying around with the judiciary’s powers.

Even in the matter of compassion and a presidential pardon, it gets tricky, because some people are asking why no such compassion was extended to others sent to jail by the Supreme Court for contempt under not too dissimilar circumstances.

Minutes to the curfew hour on the night of June 30th June, 1982, several armed men in civilian clothes abducted a retired army major and three judges from their homes at Ridge, Cantonments and Dzorwulu. The four were driven in a military jeep to the Bundase Military range and executed by their captors. The gruesome details of the manner of execution are best left in the files of the courts and police investigators.

What did transpire during the trial of several suspects who were subsequently convicted for the crime, was that one of the suspects had driven the rest of them around and pointed out to them, the respective residences of the three judges and the retired major.

Since this happened 34 years ago and the two Montie FM talk show panellists and host may have been toddlers or even not born at the time, they must have been insensitive to, or under-estimated the gravity of their threat to eliminate another group of judges.

They did not only threaten that justices of the Supreme Court hearing the suit on the voters register would be killed if they did not rule in favour of the Electoral Commission, they unfortunately went on to enact in the minds everyone, the morbid scenarios that played out in the abduction and subsequent execution of the judges 34 years ago, this time, with themselves or associates as the implied abductors.

The statement to the effect that they knew where the judges reside in Accra was a terrible one to make because as stated above, at the trial of the abductors and killers of the judges, it was revealed that one of the accused had taken the other suspects around and shown them the houses of the judges to facilitate their abduction.

No human is immune from mistakes and error and no one must rejoice that a political rival has fallen foul of the law, but what has happened provides opportunities for learning and institutional growth by party leaders and followers who have the humility to accept mistakes and work to avoid repeating them.

I have always advocated the establishment of research, training and orientation centers for party cadres by all political parties, not to cram the cadres with political ideologies of whatever persuasion, but to give them a fair grounding in the country’s political history, cadre discipline and the country’s laws as they relate to political party activity and activism.