Contempt: Supreme Court cautions Kpessa Whyte

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The Supreme Court has cautioned and discharged Professor Michael Kpessa Whyte, a Political Science Lecturer at University of Ghana on offences of contempt.

Prof. Whyte pleaded guilty to scandalising the Supreme Court in his tweet dated May 19, 2023, and was convicted.
The Apex Court also convicted the National Democratic Congress member for bringing into ridicule the dignity, respect, and stature of the Supreme Court and inciting prejudice against the Court.

Prof. Whyte’s comments were made during heated public discussions regarding the Supreme Court’s order to Parliament to expunge the name of James Gyakye Quayson from its records, after it found that he had not renounced his Canadian Citizenship at the time he filed his nomination forms to contest the Assin North polls in 2020.

Dr Justice Srem Sai, Counsel for Prof Whyte, prayed for mercy for the convict.

He said even before he appeared before the Court, the Professor had already issued a statement apologising to the Court, explaining that his tweet was not in any way related to the Assin North judgment, which they had made to the Registry of the Court.

The Counsel said immediately the matter was brought to his attention, he had issued “a clear, unreserved apology which we have accordingly brought to the court’s registry, addressed to the acting Chief Justice”.

Dr Srem Sai said his client had taken steps to place the apology on the front page of the Ghanaian Times with the full apology on page three of the paper.

He had also pulled down the tweet and published the apology to the public using the same medium immediately his attention was brought to it.

The Counsel said: “We will ensure that such sad and regrettable occurrence does not ever happen, rather, we are committed to defending the integrity of the Court and the entire Judiciary.”

Ms Mariama Owusu, who presided over the five-member panel, said they had taken into consideration the apologies and all other prayers for mitigation made by the lawyers and decided to caution the convict.

Prof. Whyte in the tweet said: “The highest Court of the Land has been turned into a ‘Stupid Court’.

“They have succeeded in turning a Supreme Court into a Stupid Court. Common sense is now a scarce commodity.”

The convict in his apology said: “I have observed that Ghanaweb and other media publications sought to associate my tweet with the decision of the Supreme Court in the Assin North matter as stated on the face of the summons to show cause, but honestly, at the time of my tweet, I had no knowledge of the Supreme Court’s decision as at 9: 59am when I did the tweet.

“The said tweet had resulted in the invocation of the powers of the Apex Court in our country for me to appear and show cause because the tweet has scandalised the Apex Court of our land and has brought the dignity of the court into disrepute.”

He said sincerely, the tweet was not done with the intent to scandalise or denigrate a revered institution such as the Supreme Court of Ghana for, which he had a tremendous amount of respect and admiration.

“These are consequences I never intended, although I do accept responsibility that, I could have exercised better judgment in my choice of words,” he added.

He said: “Please permit me to state unequivocally that I have no reason to slander our Supreme Court, and I hereby sincerely apologise unreservedly for any pain and discomfort my tweets may have caused the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court, and the entire judiciary.

“I hereby retract the tweet in question; accordingly, the tweet has been deleted completely and I pray for forgiveness.”

The case was heard by Justices Mariama Owusu, Lovelace Johnson, Prof Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, Samuel Asiedu, and George Koomson.

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