Majority, Speaker Clash Over Sosu

Alban S.K. Bagbin

The Majority Caucus in Parliament has questioned Speaker Alban S.K. Bagbin’s refusal not to release the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu, to the Ghana Police Service for investigations.

“The Majority Leadership in Parliament notes with extreme concern the refusal of the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon Alban S.K. Bagbin, to release the Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, Hon Francis-Xavier Sosu, to the Ghana Police Service to assist with investigations into alleged offences committed during a recent demonstration in his constituency,” the group said in a statement.

Tacit Support

There are suggestions Mr. Bagbin is shielding the NDC MP from being subjected to criminal investigations for his alleged breach of the law, having described as “disingenuous and a blatant affront” to the Parliament of Ghana an attempt by the Ghana Police Service to arrest the legislator.

On Wednesday, the Speaker released a statement in which he castigated the police for ignoring him and attempting to arrest Sosu last Sunday at a church after he had indicated in a letter dated October 29, 2021, detailing the reasons the MP could not be released to assist in investigations.

He said this was a “clear violation of the provisions of the 1992 Constitution and gross disrespect” to him as Speaker and Parliament as an institution, noting that the manner and fashion of the said attempted arrest offend not just the latter, but the “very spirit that underpins our 1992 Constitution.”

Criminal Summons

Already, the Ghana Police Service has announced that it has secured Criminal Summons from court to facilitate the arrest of the Madina MP, who has been evading arrest.

The Director-General of the Public Affairs Department of the Ghana Police Service, ACP Kwesi Ofori said on Wednesday that following the summons, the police are charging the MP for obstruction of public way, causing damage to other road users and unlawful damage, and added that the MP is expected to appear in court on November 8.

Video Evidence

In one video, Sosu was captured instigating the youth to block roads and cause mayhem, and when that happened he run to Parliament to claim that he was being harassed by the police and wanted the officers looking for him rather punished by the legislature.

Sosu has been evading arrest since the police made it clear that they are looking for him as part of the investigations into the violence, and has blatantly refused to honour the invitation, hiding behind parliamentary privileges.

The police have said that 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.

Majority Angry

The House appears deeply divided on the position of the Speaker, with the Majority splitting with Mr. Bagbin’s decision not to release Francis-Xavier Sosu to the police for investigations.

“The Majority Leadership views the foregoing response by Speaker Bagbin as a troubling departure from how his predecessors handled such requests,” the statement indicated.

The statement continued that former Speakers, Joyce Bamford Addo and Edward Doe Adjaho received such requests during their times and asked the MPs involved to submit themselves to investigations after holding discussions with them.

“Again, during his tenure as Speaker, Rt. Hon. Professor Mike Oquaye modified the arrangement, by making the Speaker’s Conference Room available to the police to meet with MPs they were interested in and to conduct initial investigations.

“He did this to protect the dignity of MPs while at the same time ensuring that MPs are not put above the law. At all these times, Hon Bagbin, as he then was, had been part of the leadership of the House,” the statement pointed out.

New Rules

“Now the Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Rt. Hon Bagbin, appears to be instituting new rules that seem to undermine the Rule of Law without any prior discussions with the Leadership of the House. We ask: ‘What exactly has changed?’” the Majority asked rhetorically.

The statement said the Majority, as a group, believes firmly that constitutionally guaranteed immunity for MPs in the nation’s democracy must not only be always protected, but jealously guarded as well.

“However, never should we, as a Parliament, make the mistake of allowing immunity to be construed to mean impunity,” the statement noted.

It added that the Majority holds the view that in the particular case under reference, Parliament, as the law-making arm of our democracy, has a constitutional, legal and moral duty to cooperate and collaborate with the police to ensure that the Rule of Law prevails.

“Parliament must not be seen to be creating a false regime of two separate laws in Ghana – one for MPs and another for non-MPs. Instead, Parliament must ensure the equality of all citizens, including MPs, before the law,” the statement concluded.

By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House