“They certainly will convict them if all conditions are satisfied - if the comments were authored by them and if they authored them after the final touchline warning.
But I wish they will give them suspended sentences”, a preamble to a social media advocacy by host of Joy FM's Newsfile, Samson Lardy Ayenini.
The crusade comes after New Patriotic Party (NPP) General Secretary Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, also known as Sir John, allegedly made disparaging remarks about Justice William Atuguba who is presiding over a panel of judges hearing the election petition at the Supreme Court.
The petition brought by key figures in the opposition NPP is challenging the declaration of John Mahama as the winner of the presidential polls held last December.
The party’s General Secretary described the judge as a hypocrite, joker and a voodoo deity. Hopeson Adorye, an NPP communicator, also promised his party "will go on a head cutting spree, cutting off the heads of NDC supporters should the Supreme Court declare President Mahama the winner".
These remarks were made after a final 'touchline' warning by Justice William Atuguba.
The comments have incurred the displeasure of the “awesome” judges to hint in court on July 8th 2013 that, a contempt of court charge was in the offing. They promised to deal with the matter in due course.
After over four weeks of waiting by the court, the public appears to have believed that the matter had been quietly laid to rest especially as the Supreme Court is preparing to give its judgment on the petition.
But in an unexpected twist of events, the court has set August 14, 2013, as the date for the two leading NPP figures to defend their contemptuous statements in court.
This has triggered a growing chorus for clemency for the doomed politicians. One of persons leading this chorus, is the Newsfile umpire, Samson Lardy Ayenni.
Posting on his facebook page, the lawyer noted that “they [the justices] certainly will convict them if all conditions are satisfied - comments were authored by them and authored after the final touchline warning. But I wish they will give them suspended sentences.
The court after hearing them and satisfying itself that they are guilty of the offence, would first pronounce a penalty of a fine or imprisonment, or both but will then order that the sentence is suspended meaning it will not be implemented."
A suspended sentence is one given after the formal conviction of a crime that the convicted person is not required to serve. In criminal cases, the trial Judge has the power and discretion (in cases like this) to suspend the sentence of the convicted contemnor.
He argued that the passage of time plus the fact that the commentators have been largely responsible, refined and civil in their comments since an NDC communicator Stephen Atubiga and Editor of Daily Searchlight newspaper, Ken Kuranchie were also jailed for similar offenses.
He continued that in view of the tension ahead of the ruling and the various calls for peace, it would be welcome news if the judges handed down suspended sentences.
The crusade has received the endorsement of panelists on Newsfile, Gabby Otchere Darko of the Danquah Institute and Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, Managing editor of the New Crusading Guide newspaper as well as Chris Akumey and Nana Ato Dadzie, both members of the NDC legal team