General News of Friday, 28 July 2017
Former Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Martin Amidu has condemned members of the Minority in parliament over their conduct in expressing disagreements with the Speaker of Parliament Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye.
“We elected the 275 Members of Parliament out of about 26 million citizens to show exemplary conduct to the nation in the discharge of their functions on our behalf in Parliament,” Mr Amidu noted in a statement on Friday, July 28.
The Minority had indicated that they were considering taking steps to impeach the Speaker of the house over allegations of bias against them.
The Minority’s threat follows a complaint by its leader Haruna Iddrisu on Thursday, that Prof Oquaye had limited him to just one question when the Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) appeared before parliament.
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto was on the floor to answer questions relating to government’s Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
Accra100.5FM’s parliamentary correspondent Richard Appiah Sarpong said Mr Iddrisu appeared infuriated about the turn of events and accused the Speaker of bias.
Ranking Member of the Communications Committee of the house, ABA Fuseini, also told Class FM’s parliamentary correspondent Ekow Annan that: “For want of a better term, the Speaker has exhibited gross levels of bias that is unbelievable. In the annals of the history of parliament, I have never seen this kind of behaviour. There is always reverence and respect for the leadership and when it comes to the leadership there is a special dispensation Speakers give to the leadership and this is not the first time the Speaker has treated our side with this level of disrespect and I think that we are reaching the end of the rope with that kind of behaviour.
“We are going to be forced to take maybe an unprecedented action that has never happened in the annals of our fourth republic. …We are very close and there are a number of options available to us as Minority to exploit including the impeachment of the Speaker. … [Impeachment] is an option available to us to exercise and when we deem it fit, we are going to exercise it if things don’t change,” Mr Fuseini added.
However Mr Amidu has criticised the minority for their actions towards the Speaker.
He said: “…those who are calling for mere apologies to the serious dent on the distinguished and eminent Speaker’s reputation earned over several years as a University teacher, professor, lawyer, Member of Parliament and an ambassador to assuage the deliberate contempt are not helping to uphold the Constitutional order”.
For him, “the reputation, dignity and honour of the office of Speaker (bi-partisanly elected) must not be allowed to be used for partisan, cheap and uncouth posturing in any way”.
Below is the full statement:
UNCULTURED BEHAVIOUR OF SOME PARLIAMENTARIANS SUBVERTING THE CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER: BY MARTIN A. B. K. AMIDU
The internet is awash with the news that some Members of Parliament yesterday exhibited both in and out of parliament unpardonable un-parliamentary behaviour amounting to contempt and rioting in Parliament.
When ordinary citizens complain about their behavior we are charged with or threatened with the arbitrary and archaic procedure of contempt of parliament. We now have a golden opportunity to see how equality is equity before the law when it comes to Members of Parliament.
I have confirmed this news by just listening and watching a video showing Hon. Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, the Minority Chief Whip, speaking to a group of pressmen gathered around him outside what appears to be the chamber of parliament (I suspect he was speaking to the parliamentary press corps) and charging the Speaker of Parliament with exercising the discretionary constitutional and statutory powers of his office capriciously. The Constitution, Standing Orders and laws of the Ghana notwithstanding, no matter what, the last thing we expect of a true Ghanaian brought up within all our cultures is to exhibit the highest degree of decorum when speaking to others let alone to or of elder persons. I formed the impression that apart from the above contemptuous statements spoken by the Hon. Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak outside parliament to the press he had earlier during the sitting of parliament also “registered his anger in a robust way by saying that the minority would no longer countenance any act of disrespect by the speaker…”
Another Member of Parliament, Hon. A. B. A Fusieni also speaking to Class FM’s Ekow Annan is quoted to have contemptuously said the following of the Speaker of Parliament: “For want of a better term, the Speaker has exhibited gross levels of bias that is unbelievable. In the annals of the history of parliament. I have never seen this kind of behavior…. We are going to be forced to take maybe unprecedented action that has never happened in the annals of our fourth republic…We are very close and there are a number of options available to us Minority to exploit including the impeachment of the speaker….” Our democracy is endangered when members of parliament can issue threats and use intimidatory language to rudely chastise the Speaker outside Parliament in such an uncouth manner.
Compare the above uncouthness with the decorous language of Hon. Haruna Iddrisu (Minority Leader) reacting to his not being given the floor a second time on the matter; and the equally decorous response of the Speaker in Parliament: Minority Leader: “You know the essence of parliamentary questions is significant and integral to the exercise of oversight. Your refusal to allow me to even as Minority Leader to proceed can only be an effort to cripple us. We respect you as chair of this house; we have a responsibility as leaders to support you in maintaining order in this house.’ He exclaimed.
Speaker: “I have consistently made it clear to both sides of the House – Majority and Minority – that no one will be allowed a double bite as I said on many occasions to both the Minority and the Majority. In all honesty you all know that. Let me make it clear that this argument was unnecessary and that in future what is going to happen is no leader shall have double bite at the chamber.”
Like it or not, the reputation and dignity of the office of the Speaker of Parliament has deliberately been brought into serious inexcusable opprobrium and disrepute both in and outside Parliament by those indecorous Members of Parliament who rioted, banged desks, wagged their figures at the Speaker and granted interviews to the media to bring the high office of the Speaker who was elected by the whole House and not by one political party into disrepute and contempt before reasonable members of the public.
I agree in toto with a quotation attributed to the Majority leader in the Daily Guide Africa that: “The majority leader said that the threat by the minority to impeach the speaker was contemptuous of parliament, according to Order 30 (j), while the riotous behavior of the minority members was equally contemptuous as captured under Order 30 (3) (a) of parliament.”
On or around 12th January 2017 the Hon. Alex Agyekum took the floor of the House to threaten and intimidate me by calling for me to be hauled to Parliament for contempt for saying nothing contemptuous of the present Parliament. In any case unbeknown to him as a blind man, so to speak, I was stepping on stones. The Hon. Ras Mubarak also this July took to the floor of the House and threatened and intimidated Mr. Sydney Casely-Hayford, a distinguished citizen and far old enough to be his grandfather, with being charged for contempt of Parliament for articulating to students at a public academic forum what had always been constitutionally protected as part of his freedom of thought and conscience but became contempt when he exercised his right to freedom of expressing those thoughts and conscience.
We elected the 275 Members of Parliament out of about 26 million citizens to show exemplary conduct to the nation in the discharge of their functions on our behalf in Parliament. Consequently, those who are calling for mere apologies to the serious dent on the distinguished and eminent Speaker’s reputation earned over several years as a University teacher, professor, lawyer, Member of Parliament and an ambassador to assuage the deliberate contempt are not helping to uphold the Constitutional order. The reputation, dignity and honour of the office of Speaker (bi-partisanly elected) must not be allowed to be used for partisan, cheap and uncouth posturing in any way.
What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
A stitch in time also saves nine. Citizens’ Vigilance for Justice demands that fellow Ghanaians join us to defend the Constitution against these contemnors. Citizens, let’s be awake; we are sovereign over Parliament and must hold it to account!
Martin A. B. K. Amidu (Citizens Vigilance for Justice) 28th July 2017