'Presidential oath by Speaker of Parliament is absurd'

General News of Sunday, 6 December 2015

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Edward Doe Adjaho Speaker NewSpeaker of Parliament Edward Doe Adjaho

Some political pundits have described as “absurd” Article 60 (12) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana which requires that the Speaker of Parliament be made to take the oath of the Office of the President before commencing to perform the functions of the President in the absence of the President and Vice-President.

According to them, although they respected the decision of the Supreme Court that obliged the Speaker to take the oath of the highest office of the land, there was the need to question its practicality.

They have therefore, called for a rewording of Article 60 (11)-(12) of the constitution.

Speaking on Accra-based Joy FM, the Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akomea, stated that, “I have a problem with the ruling, especially the practicality of it… I think it’s absurd this provision in the constitution. The Vice President, he takes the oath once. Doesn’t he? Why can’t we let the speaker…?”

“I remember on one occasion, Parliament was summoned at midnight so that Peter Ala Adjetey could take three minutes to recite the presidential oath,” he recalled.

Nana Akomea further proposed that “for the practicality, going forward, we need to maybe change the wording and stipulate that the speaker has to take the oath once and reword the provision so that that once suffices for the four years. Now, that is what we have but going forward…I think we have to reword the constitution.”

Deputy Communications Minister, Felix Kwakye Ofosu, shared the same opinion as Nana Akomea, noting, “I’m on all fours with Nana Akomea on this one”.

According to him, “Perhaps at the time that the Constitution was being framed, it appeared a good measure to ensure that there’s some continuity and that there’s no vacuum created in terms of the exercise of executive authority. But in this day and age, it is not necessary at all”.

He also proposed that going forward; there was the need to have a relook at that provision in the constitution since “it does not reflect the current trend.”

“I think that it’s not necessary for somebody else to take over the work of the president immediately because he’s out of the jurisdiction. We all agree that wherever the president is he can perform his function,” he said.

Managing Editor of the New Crusading Guide, Kweku Baako Jnr also noted that, “The Supreme Court judgment appears to have vindicated the lines some of us took.”

He recalled two occasions in which the then Speaker of Parliament, Justice Annan declined to take the oath when he acted as President.

Nonetheless, Mr Baako noted that the action by the Mr Adjaho was “a clear violation of the constitution, what I call constitutional lawlessness.”

The SC on Thursday declared that the Speaker of Parliament was obliged to swear the oath each time he assumed the Office of the President.

This followed a suit filed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Citi FM, Mr Samuel Atta-Mensah seeking among other things, an interpretation of Article 60 (12) of the Constitution after the Speaker had on two occasions on November 5 and 7, declined to be sworn in to act in the capacity of the President in the absence of both the President and his vice.

Mr Adjaho declined to take the oath of office on the basis that since he had taken the same oath on October 19, 2013 when the President and his vice were out of the country, there was no need for him to do so again.

But the nine-member panel, presided over by Mrs Justice Sophia Akuffo maintained that the Speaker of Parliament should always, before assuming the functions of the Office of President when the President and the Vice-President were unable to perform their functions, take and subscribe to the oath set out in relation to the Office of the President.