Stop undermining Bagbin’s authority – Minority to Majority

The Minority Caucus in Ghana’s Parliament has slammed the Majority for undermining the authority of the Speaker of the House, Alban Bagbin on the case involving the Ghana Police Service and Francis Xavier Sosu, Member of Parliament for Madina.

The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, in a statement expressed disgust at why their colleagues on the Majority side could intentionally ignore processes in Parliament in dealing with Members of Parliament in case of an alleged misdemeanour.

According to the Minority Leader, the actions of the Majority can weaken the Institution of Parliament.

Below is the full statement by the Minority Caucus in Parliament

PRESS STATEMENT BY THE MINORITY LEADERSHIP, PARLIAMENT HOUSE, GHANA – 4TH NOVEMBER, 2021

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 Bare Facts

Indeed, the Ghana Police attempted to arrest Hon. Francis Xavier Sosu, the MP for Madina on the 25th of October 2021, the day of the demonstration without reference to Rt. Hon Speaker as required under articles 117 and 118 of the 1992 Constitution.

The MP complained to the House about the Police Service’s attempt to arrest him without following the laid down procedures and the matter was subsequently referred to the Committee of Privileges by the Speaker.

Again, 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.

The Majority Leadership has lost its way for abandoning the truth and the facts of this Francis-Xavier Sosu matter. The Rt. Speaker of the 8th Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana has not changed any rule. The request of the Police Service for release of MPs who have complaints lodged against them at the Police Service are invited to the Office of the Speaker. After listening to them, the Speaker will then inform them of the decision to release them to the Police Service for investigation. The Speaker will then convey his decision to the Investigators and remind them of the practice established by his predecessors of conducting the investigations in the Conference Room of the Speaker in the presence of their lawyers. The MPs are informed of the date to appear and attend to the investigations and to answer the enquiries of the Investigators and the MPs comply.

This is the practice.

In the case of Hon Francis Xavier Kojo Sosu, the Police Service neither invited him directly nor through the Rt. Hon. Speaker. The Police personnel went to his constituency where he was performing his duties as an MP in the company of Police officers lawfully detailed by the Regional Police Service to provide guidance and protection for him and a procession of youth in the Madina Constituency against the sorry state of roads in the constituency to arrest him. He was then addressing the constituents.

In such a situation, the constituents will do everything to protect their MP. His personal bodyguard, lawfully assigned to him by the Parliament Police Protection Unit, a Division of the Ghana Police Service, managed to drive the MP out of danger and to safety. The Hon Sosu then became a wanted man by the Police. It is on record, that the Speaker contacted the MP who confirmed the story.

Convinced that this conduct of the Police constituted contempt of Parliament, the MP drew the attention of Parliament at a plenary sitting to the breach. By the Standing Orders of Parliament, the Speaker has the discretion to either refer or decline reference to the Privileges Committee. The facts and evidence adduced by the MP in the complaint raised serious concerns that merit investigation by the Parliamentary Committee. The Speaker therefore referred the complaint to the Committee for investigation and report to the House. It is the House that will decide whether the conduct as investigated constituted contempt of Parliament or not. It is not the Speaker who will take that decision. And this is public record.

As to complaint by the Majority Leadership of the Speaker not consulting the Leaders on such matters the law on instructions from suspects to a lawyer or a person in a similar role are privileged information. The Minority is therefore of the firm belief that Speaker was not convinced that these are information subject to disclosure to third parties.

While we believe that the Speaker is open to better knowledge and advice on this matter, we are sure the Speaker doubts the legal validity of the opinion of the Majority Leadership in this matter who totally disagrees with same.

The issuance of this Press Statement by the Majority Caucus leadership is unwarranted for two reasons. Firstly, they are aware that the Speaker and the Leaders are not in the country and secondly a criminal summons has already been issued and as such the police should follow the laid down procedures as per articles 117 and 118.

The rule of law is not about selective justice. The rule of law abhors persecution and selective prosecution. What the Minority despise is the fact that only Minority MPs are wrong and are being persecuted. The Minority has no intention to undermine the very laws that has ensured the stability of our society and sustained our democracy. We, therefore, wish to remind the Majority that they cannot continue to connive with the Executive to use the security agencies to abuse some sections of Ghanaians including non-NPP MPs under the cloak of rule of law.

We are inviting the whole country to see how the Majority Leadership in conjunction with the Executive wants to undermine the forward march of our democracy and we call on all Ghanaians to resist this creeping dictatorship in our body politic. What wrong has the Rt. Hon Speaker done in this whole matter?

On 29th October, 2021 the Rt. Hon Speaker directed the Deputy Director of Legal Services of Parliament to inform the Police that he was unable to release the Hon Member for Madina but added that “… 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”.

Consequently, the Parliamentary Service of Ghana in a Press Release dated 3rd November, 2021, by a Deputy Clerk (on behalf of the Clerk to Parliament) reiterated the position of the Rt. Hon Speaker and noted that – “…Members of Parliament are not above the law. The issue is not that a Member of Parliament cannot be investigated or arrested. The issue is the procedure to follow to investigate or arrest a Member of Parliament.”

The Rt. Hon Speaker further added that – “… the Police Service requires the support of everyone to conduct their affairs and that support will be granted, provided their services are within the boundaries of the law and rules established by the provisions of the 1992 Constitution and other laws governing democracy and all civilized societies.”

As we have indicated, the Minority will always uphold the rule of law. The Hon Member for Madina will subject himself to the appropriate lawful authorities when those agencies follow due process. We shall not be cowed into servitude by persons who claim and chat “rule of law”, encourage and champion the “power of arrest” by Police only when the person of interest is a member of the Opposition. Let us all be guided by the provisions in Order 30 of the Standing Orders of Parliament and articles 117, 118 and 122 of the 1992 Constitution. The Majority should not pick and choose the provisions of the Constitution and other laws of the country. They cannot engage in continuous “legal fishing” by picking and interpreting provisions and precedents for their own parochial partisan benefit. We are disappointed in the Majority for this needless attack on the Office of the Speaker.

We in the Minority will always support a stronger Parliament to serve the public better and to hold the Executive accountable.

Signed:
Mr Haruna Iddrisu
Hon Minority Leader
4th November, 2021

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