The National Peace Council (NPC) has advised individuals and institutions to refrain from unjustified attacks on the integrity of the Supreme Court judges who heard the 2012 election petition, describing those attacks as ‘inimical to the maintenance of national peace and cohesion’.
‘While recognising the people’s right to exercise their freedom of expression guaranteed under the Constitution and the duly constituted authorities that are competent to deal with violation of this right, the council respectfully advises that every effort should be made to consolidate the peace in the country and that, in consequence, organisations and personalities should refrain from utterances, statements and other acts that are likely to create tension that could threaten national peace,’ the Chairman of the NPC, the Most Rev Prof Emmanuel Asante, said at a news conference in Accra yesterday.
Although he fell short of citing anyone, spontaneous whispers from journalists present clearly suggested that the lead counsel for the third respondent in the election petition, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, and the Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, Mr Gabby Otchere-Darko, were in the firing range.
The two lawyers are reported to have attacked the integrity of some of the Supreme Court judges who heard the landmark case.
When pressed by journalists to be more specific in his admonition, the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana said, ‘A word to the wise is enough.’
Anxiety and tension
Anxiety had gripped Ghanaians prior to the Supreme Court judgement on the election petition, but after the ruling last Thursday and just when the cloud of tension hanging over the country began to clear, Mr Tsikata stirred the hornet’s nest when he challenged the integrity of one of the Supreme Court judges in a case brought before the court of public opinion the media.
Mr Otchere-Darko is also reported to have filed a similar case against other members of the panel on the election petition, using the same media platform.
Their comments have dominated public discourse and generated a lot of concern, as the receding tension in the country begins to crawl back.
In defence of judges
But mounting a strong defence against what it described as ‘unjustified attacks’ on the integrity of the judges, the NPC said there was the need for all to refrain from utterances that had the potential to undermine the peace of the country.
‘There is no doubt that we need to move forward. Ghana is more than the Supreme Court judgement, and now that the judgement is over, we should move forward,’ the Most Rev Prof Asante stated.
He asked Ghanaians to remember how some neighbouring countries that were once major destinations were subsequently plunged into chaos, adding that the Supreme Court ruling on the election petition was not a done deal and so it was important to talk about peace always.
‘Let’s not beat war drums; beat peace drums. Let’s concentrate on the positive things, those things that will build our nation. Let’s not concentrate on the negative things,’ he said.
Kudos to all
The Most Rev Prof Asante commended the key actors in the election petition and all those who warmly received the judgement of the Supreme Court and played major roles towards ensuring peace in the country.
A member of the NPC and Paramount Chief of the Asokore Traditional Area in the Ashanti Region, Nana Krobea Susubiribi Asante, appealed to the media not to give prominence to such matters (in reference to the comments by Messrs Tsikata and Otchere-Darko) ‘because they are very divisive’.
By Kofi Yeboah/Daily Graphic/Ghana