The Minority in Parliament appears to be fuming over the remarks made by their colleagues in the Majority Caucus as they send a quick response to their colleagues.
According Minority, the Majority Caucus is deliberately putting blind eyes on the facts surrounding the attempted arrest of the Member of Parliament for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu, and the Speaker’s handling of same.
Prior to the statement from Minority Caucus, the Majority had accused the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, of instituting new rules that seem to undermine the rule of law without any prior discussions with the leadership of the house, making the embattled MP untouchable.
In a statement on Thursday, the Majority Caucus said the refusal of the Speaker to release the legislator to assist with investigations into alleged offenses is of extreme concern.
It said the Speaker’s handling of the case, which is troubling, was a shift away from what his predecessors had done in similar cases in the past.
It cited Speaker Joyce Bamford Addo and Edward Doe Adjaho’s handling of such invitation of MPs during their days in office, who responded by inviting the relevant MPs, held discussions with them, and then asked them to report to the police or investigating authorities.
The statement said during Professor Mike Oquaye’s tenure as Speaker, he modified the arrangement including 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 they were not put above the law, it said.
“At all these times, Hon Bagbin as he was then, had been part of the Leadership of the House,” it added.
“Speaker Bagbin appears now to be instituting new rules that seem to undermine the rule of law without any prior discussions with the Leadership of the House,” the statement said, asking; “What exactly has changed?”
“As a group, the Majority believes firmly that constitutionally guaranteed immunity for MPs in our democracy must not be protected always but jealously guarded as well. However, never should we as a parliament make the mistake of allowing immunity to be constructed to mean impunity,” the Majority stated.
However, the Minority, in a statement on Thursday, disagreed with the Majority’s claims, insisting that the Speaker was only trying to ensure that the Police follows standard procedures in inviting the MP for questioning.
“The police attempted to arrest him on Sunday 31st October 2021 while he was worshiping in church. This was in spite of the fact that the police wrote to the Speaker on 27th October, 2021 and the Speaker replied and reiterated the fact that there is a procedure that is to be followed with respect to inviting a Member of Parliament to assist in investigations and until that procedure is followed, he as Speaker would not entertain their request. Criminal summons was subsequently issued against the MP with charges to appear before the court on 8th November 2021.
“The Majority Leadership is being mischievous and disingenuous by ignoring the fact that the Police refused to comply with the established protocols of dealing with matters affecting MPs by not, first of all, contacting the Speaker who would have then made the necessary arrangements for them to meet with the affected MP.
According to the statement from the Minority signed by their leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said the Majority’s statement shows an attempt to undermine the authority of the Speaker.
“The Minority Leadership notes with great consternation and disappointment the Press Statement by the Majority Leadership. The Minority Leadership considers the Press Statement as an attempt to undermine the Authority of the Rt. Hon Speaker Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin and weaken the Institution of Parliament. We are a country governed by law, and we the Minority will always uphold the cardinal principles of natural justice guaranteed under the Constitution. We will continue to uphold and respect those democratic values and ethos,” the NDC Minority stressed.
It would be recalled that the Police have secured criminal summons against the MP in court after they tried on two occasions to arrest him.
But Francis-Xavier after failing to honor police summons accused the security agency of being disingenuous with their account of events.
The Parliamentary Service has also said it takes strong exceptions to the manner the Ghana Police Service is seeking to arrest the legislator over alleged wrongdoing.
Responding to the police, the parliamentary service was of the view that, albeit the immunity of MPs is not absolute, the legislator cannot be treated in a way that is unconstitutional and threatens the country’s democracy.
They wondered why the police administration has failed to secure a certificate from the Speaker of the House before going ahead to effect the arrest of the MP.
By Vincent Kubi