A Kumasi High Court last Monday convicted four members of the Kumasi Club, a 93-year-old social club in the Ashanti Regional capital, for contempt of court and sentenced them to two weeks imprisonment.
They are Kwame Brenyah, Norman Owusu Barnie, Charles Asabere and Henry Asumadu
The four, however, narrowly escaped custodial sentence after the Kumasi High Court presided over by Justice Ali Baba Abature, reviewed the sentence to a fine of GH¢6,000 or in default, they would go to jail for two weeks following an immediate application for review of the custodial sentence by the counsel for the respondents, Mr Asante Krobea.
The four were found to be in contempt of the court after they held a meeting of the club while there was a case pending before the court disputing the eligibility of the convicts as leaders of the club.
The Kumasi Club, which is the oldest social club in Kumasi, was originally known as the European Club. The membership is made up highly trained professionals residing in the Ashanti Region.
In his application for the review of the sentence, Mr Krobea told the court that one of the convicts was incapacitated while the other was also very advanced in age.
The counsel said with the increasing rate of the COVID-19 infection, it would be disastrous to impose a custodial sentence on the convicts.
He, therefore, prayed the court to review the sentence to a fine.
Although the applicants' lawyer, Mr Justice Abdulai opposed the application for review of the sentence and rather prayed the court to increase it, the judge upheld the application and consequently a reviewed the custodial sentence to a fine.
In March, this year, the chairman of the Kumasi Club and three others applied to the High Court to cite the convicts for contempt of the court when they failed to wait for the outcome of a pending case at the High Court, challenging them as directors of the club and for holding a meeting to remove the applicants as directors of the club.
In his ruling, Justice Abature noted that the main objective of the offence of contempt of the court is to protect the dignity of the court.
"It is in the general interest of members of the community that the authority vested in the court to protect them, is not trampled upon. Any act which therefore, seeks to emasculate the authority of the court should not the countenanced" he said.
Justice Abature added: "Thus, by the respondents having knowledge of pending action to stop them from getting involved in the administration of the Kumasi Club as directors pending the outcome of the substantive matter between them and the applicants on the affairs of the club at the High Court, but still held a meeting when there is a pending litigation about that very act, amounts to contempt of the court hearing the litigation at hand."
Speaking to journalists after the ruling, Mr Abdulai described the ruling as good.
"It demonstrated that the court does not joke with its authority and so persons who misconduct themselves or portray themselves as above the law are dealt with."
He added: "Indeed, all those who claim that there is no law in Ghana, I believe that today's decision is a clear demonstration that there are laws in Ghana and that persons who break the law will be punished accordingly."