Parliament has pardoned and discharged a Scientist and Lecturer at the School of Medicine and Dentistry of University of Ghana, Prof Alex Dodoo, for his contemptuous comments against the House.
During proceedings on Friday, a decision was taken to set free the Professor after the Committee of Privileges had submitted its report to Members of the House for adoption.
The decision to pardon and discharge Prof Dodoo was as a result of his “unqualified” apology to the House through his counsel on his behalf when he was summoned.
Prof. Alex Dodoo was summoned by the Privileges Committee of Parliament following his statements deemed ‘insulting’ to the Honourable House.
The law makers suspended the supposed ebola vaccine trials in the Hohoe Municipality of the Volta Region, citing that Parliament was not aware of the exercise.
The decision to suspend the exercise followed a statement presented by the Minister of Health, Alex Segbefia informing the House of the trials to be undertaken at Hohoe with approval from the Food and Drugs Authority(FDA), under the ministry of health.
The legislators through their Speaker, Rt. Hon. Doe Adjaho directed the ministry of health to hold on with the exercise and brief the House vividly on the vaccine trials.
But Prof Dodoo in an interview with TV3 objected the decision describing the Parliamentarians as “ignorant” about the whole vaccine trials. “I believe that people should rather ask or shut up” he said.
His comments meet serious rebuttals from some MPs who called for the head. The Speaker deferred the matter to the Committee of Privileges to summon Prof Dodoo to answer questions and bring a report to the House.
Yoni Kulendi, Counsel for Prof. Dodoo, on behalf of his client rendered an “unconditional and irrevocable” apology to the House and its Members. His client also also sung the same chorus of apology when he was given the chance to say something.
Though the Chairman of the Committee who is the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament and MP for Cape Coast North, Hon. Ebo Barton-Oduro prevented Members from questioning Prof Dodoo with reasons that he had apologized, a letter dated Tuesday 21st July, 2015, signed by Ebenezer Djietror, Principal Assistant Clerk to the Committee and titled “Invitation to attend upon Parliament on Thursday 23rd July 2015”, was addressed to Prof. Alex Dodoo.
He was spotted sitting at the public gallery side of the Parliament on the said date the letter had stated but his matter was not raised that day.
Meanwhile, on Friday the report of the committee on Prof Dodoo was presented on the floor of Parliament in which the Committee urged the House to adopt, pardon and discharge Prof Dodoo.
Commenting on the report, MP for Suame and the Minority Leader, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah described the comments by the Prof as “inappropriate and harsh” adding that “nobody is saying that Parliament as an institution or Members of Parliament should not be criticized”. He however urged the House to adopt the report and pardon Prof Dodoo.
The Leader of the Majority MPs, Alban Bagbin stated that the privileges of parliamentarians “are not additional rights” but rather exemptions to give the MPs authority to efficiently represent their constituents stating that “the law is not restricted to only those outside Parliament it also applies in equal measure to those inside Parliament including Members of Parliament, can also be punished for contempt”, he opined.
According to the Majority Leader democracy is not an event but it is a process so we learn about it everyday. He advised Ghanaians to read books on how Parliament operates and what constitute contempt of Parliament.
The Nadowli / Kaleo MP Hon Bagbin urged the house to pardon Prof Dodoo but advised him to be mindful of his choice of words against MPs.
He further added MPs are not “ignorant” so they won’t “shut up” but “go and sin no more”..
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