Madina Protest: Sosu Hot Hides Under Bagbin Cloth

Francis Xavier Sosu

There is raging debate over whether or not a Member of Parliament who has committed an offence can be arrested by the police, following the attempted arrest of the NDC Madina MP, Francis Xavier Sosu by the Ghana Police Service.

Mr. Sosu has blatantly refused to honour police invitation to help investigate the circumstances leading to the violent scenes recorded during the demonstration he organised to push for good roads in his constituency.

During the demonstration which occurred between Ayi Mensah and Amrahia in the Madina Constituency on Monday, October 25, the youth he had organised blocked roads and burned tyres, caused destruction to property and even prevented an ambulance carrying a pregnant woman from seeking medical attention at the Dodowa District Hospital, and it took the intervention of the police from the Adentan Division to restore normalcy.

MP’s Bodyguard

In the ensuing heat, the police said the MP’s bodyguard who is also a policeman, drove dangerously through the crowd and put the lives of some senior officers at the scene in danger.

Sosu after causing the chaos then run to Parliament to claim victim and rather caused the Speaker, Alban Bagbin, to invite two top policemen who were instrumental in pressing for his arrest, to the Privileges Committee.

Church Drama

Last Sunday, the police determined to arrest the MP, reportedly swarmed a church in Madina where the MP was said to be preaching, but it was unclear if the law enforcers were there to effect the MP’s arrest.

Some of the NDC MPs thronged the Believers Church at Ritz Junction, Madina, to prevent the police from arresting the MP, and subsequently whisked him away in a vehicle.

Police Clarification

The police later clarified that they were not there to arrest the MP but rather to gather intelligence, saying “any plain-clothed Police Personnel found on the premises of the church may have been there for intelligence purposes and not to effect an arrest.”

A statement issued by the Ghana Police Service and signed by its Director-General, Public Affairs, ACP Kwesi Ofori, said they “commenced investigations into certain alleged criminal acts that occurred” following the protest in the Madina Constituency, led by the MP on Monday, October 25, and said it was not true that they were there to arrest the MP.

According to the police, the MP declined an invitation by the service on “the day of the protest to assist the Police for his alleged involvement in the unlawful blockade of a road and the destruction of public property,” and said he had cited parliamentary privilege.

The statement, however, noted that “three other persons have been interrogated on the matter,” adding “we shall continue to use every legal means to interrogate all other suspects including the Honourable MP for Madina.”

Speaker’s Blockade

Already, the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin has refused a request by the police to release the Madina MP to assist in investigations.

In a letter dated October 28, 2021, Parliament’s Deputy Director of Legal Services, Nana Tawiah Okyir wrote: “I am directed by the Rt. Hon. Speaker to inform you that proceedings of the 3rd Meeting of the 1st Session of the 8th Parliament commenced on Tuesday, October 26, 2021, and having regard to the limitations of Articles 117 and 118 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic, he is unable to release the Member of Parliament as requested in your letter.”

Mr. Okyir continued that he was further directed by the Speaker to refer the Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Police Service’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID), F. K. Agyei, to the provisions of Article 122 of the 1992 Constitution and “to inform you that on Wednesday October 27, 2021 he referred to the Privileges Committee of Parliament, allegations of breach of parliamentary privilege and contempt by ACP Isaac Kojo Asante and ACP Eric Winful of the Accra Regional Police Command and the Adenta Divisional Command respectively.”

“Consequently, it is the expectation of the Rt. Hon. Speaker that the Ghana Police Service will conduct its investigations mindful of the provisions of Articles 117, 118 and 122,” the letter further stated.

Bodyguard Interdiction

Another statement of the police said the police guard previously assigned to the Medina MP, Inspector Daniel Agbavor, had been interdicted for alleged misconduct.

“He is alleged to have recklessly driven into a crowd after a protest last Monday, October 25, 2021, in the Madina Constituency, directly endangering the lives of two senior officers and other civilians.

“The two officers have officially reported the incident to the police administration for investigations and possible disciplinary action,” the statement indicated.

It continued that the Parliamentary Protection Unit had been tasked to assign a new guard to the MP.

Police Determined

Yesterday, ACP Kwesi Ofori said they have not ruled out legal action to compel the MP to report himself for questioning after the Speaker indicated in a letter that they were blocking the invitation.

“We are in a democratic country. The police have options. Even if it comes to the interpretation of that clause in the Supreme Court, the police are prepared to do it,” ACP Ofori said on Citi TV in Accra yesterday.

“We know the constitution empowers the police to conduct investigations and other matters bordering on security and as a Member of Parliament, we expect that he will also show that respect and a good gesture towards the police,” he said.

No Permission

The Dean of Law Faculty at the University of Professional Studies, Accra, Professor Ernest Kofi Abotsi, has said the Ghana Police Service does not need the permission of the Speaker to arrest the Madina MP.

“The police are not duty-bound to inform or seek the permission of the Speaker before effecting an arrest of an MP.  The authority of the police to arrest extends to everyone except the President. An MP can only evade an arrest if he is on his way from or to Parliament,” he posted on Facebook over the weekend.

Out of Order

Another private Legal Practitioner, Kweku Paintsil, said the summons issued by the Speaker of Parliament, A.S.K. Bagbin to the two police officials who attempted to arrest the Madina MP, is out of order.

He said on Joy FM in Accra over the weekend that the police officials were acting on the orders of the IGP, thus, if there’s any summons to be served, it should be to the IGP and not the officers.

“So I believe that even the summons that was issued by the Speaker is out of order,” he said.

He then advised the public against resisting arrest by the police whether they have done anything wrong or not.

“The point of the matter is that a determination has to be made by the court of law. In other words, the police on suspicion that somebody is committing a crime, or somebody is in the act of committing a crime itself, has got the power to arrest and when they arrest they are entitled to do so after they have informed you of the reason for effecting the arrest.”

Mr. Paintsil added that “the arrest is unlawful if the police have failed to do what the law requires them to do, which is to tell you in a language you understand, the reason for effecting your arrest, that is the only circumstance (under which you can resist arrest),” he added.

He said that the MP’s reliance on his parliamentary privilege to resist arrest is wrong, adding that from what Mr. Sosu had said on the matter so far, he (MP) had sufficient information on why that action was necessary.

“What I see is that he has started to more or less raise his defence to the action, the defence includes the privilege. Because, if you come before a court of law and the police have charged you and it is your case that, that particular activity that you were involved in, is covered by parliamentary privilege, it is to the judge that you say that.”

By Ernest Kofi Adu