Chief Justice nominee Sophia Akuffo has rejected claims that the Montie 3 were treated unfairly by the panel of judges which sentenced them to four months in prison.
“Normally, when natural justice has been denied, then there is denial of justice, but there was no denial of natural justice,” she said during her vetting by the Appointments Committee of Parliament on Friday, June 16.
Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn, and Salifu Maase aka Mugabe were jailed by the Supreme Court panel chaired by Justice Sophia Akuffo at that time for threatening to kill judges as well as scandalising and bringing the name of the bench into disrepute.
They had made the threatening comments against the Chief Justice and some members of the bench in connection with a ruling by the same court ordering the Electoral Commission to submit a list of voters which registered with NHIS cards.
During her vetting, Bodi MP Sampson Ahi said: “Our judges became the prosecutors and became judges in the same matter and at the end of the day handed down convictions to them [Montie 3]…”
He therefore requested for “codified rules as to who can do what when it comes to contempt so that the rule of natural justice is not breached”.
Explaining the matter, Justice Akuffo said the judiciary relies on the office of the Attorney General to prosecute in that type of contempt but “you will recall in the case you mentioned that that did not happen weeks after the contempt had been committed, so it was an exceptional circumstance but fully backed by the law that governs contempt”.
She continued that in “natural justice, invariably, that person is given the opportunity to purge their contempt but in the case of the Montie 3 we did not give them that opportunity but they did get the opportunity to put up a case if they wanted to”, adding: “They were represented by a whole bevvy of high-powered lawyers and they in the end decided to plead guilty. When a person pleads guilty, you proceed to sentence. So it is [a] normal process and [they] were not denied justice at all…”
Listen to Justice Sophia Akuffo