The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Ebo Barton-Odro, has retracted and withdrawn a directive given to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Roads and Transport to investigate and report back to the House the circumstances under which the University of Ghana, Legon was permitted to collect tolls for the use of its roads by the Ministry of Roads and Highways.
He said it had become clear to the House that some students of the university had filed a suit at the Supreme Court challenging the right and authority of the university to collect tolls and, therefore, any investigation of the matter by Parliament would prejudice the case before the court.
Mr Barton-Odro withdrew the directive after the member for Bimbilla, Mr Dominic Nitiwul (NPP), drew his attention to the case before the court.
Mr Nitiwul relied on the ruling of the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, on January 6, this year,in the Fortiz and Mechant Bank case.
Adjaho’s January 6 ruling
Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, on the said date, dismissed a private member’s motion filed by Mr Nitiwul, requesting Parliament to investigate the offer and acquisition of Merchant Bank by Fortiz Equity Fund Limited and other matters.
In his 15-minute ruling, he said since the case was then before a competent court, any discussion in the House would prejudice the case before the court.
He, therefore, ruled the motion filed by Mr Nitiwul “Out of order.”
Using references from other jurisdictions, including rules of the Commonwealth on the proper relation which should exist between the legislature and the judiciary, he said the two needed to treat each other with mutual respect.
The subjudice rule, he said, guarded against interference by the legislature in cases before the judiciary.
Quoting other rules and laws from other jurisdictions, he said when a case was pending before the court, it should not be discussed in a manner that would prejudice the case.
Barton Odro’s views
Mr Barton-Odro noted that the University of Ghana case was before the court and said under the circumstances, it would be inappropriate for the House to discuss the matter or investigate it.
Mr Adjaho, on February 4, this year, directed the Parliamentary Select Committee on Roads and Transport to investigate and report back to the House the circumstances under which the Ministry of Roads and Highways gave the green light to the university to charge tolls for the use of its roads.
The Speaker made the move following a petition he received from some students of the university seeking the intervention of Parliament.
The Committee, subsequently met the Minister of Roads and Transport, Alhaji Amin Amidu Sulemani and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof Ernest Aryeetey and the University of Ghana Council to ascertain the facts of the matter.
But even before the report of the committee could be brought to the House for discussion, the Vice Chairman of the Committee, Mr Theophilus Tetteh Chaie, said the university acted within the law in its imposition of the tolls
He told the Daily Graphic that the University of Ghana Act, 2010, (Act 806) empowered the institution to impose the tolls.