General News of Saturday, 29 July 2017
The Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) have taken cover under the Speaker’s protection barely 24 hours after threatening to impeach him for persistently treating them with disdain, suppressing, bullying and denying them the opportunity to have their say in parliament.
The rush for the speaker’s protection follows the invitation of three of their MPs to come to the headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service on Monday, July 31, 2017.
The invitation was by the Director of CID, DCOP Bright Oduro, and it is meant to help in investigations into the AMERI power deal, which is said to have caused financial loss to the state.
The minority chief whip, Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, urgently made the request on the floor of parliament yesterday for the speaker to intervene on behalf of the affected MPs.
According to Alhaji Muntaka, the police invitation to the MPs undermines the authority of parliament and also interferes with the work of a parliamentarian, who is insulated under Article 117 of the Constitution and Order 22 of the Standing Orders of Parliament from any arrest or court orders in the performance of his or her official duties.
The minority chief whip indicated that minority MPs were ready to cooperate with the security services in the performance of their legitimate duties.
He said the NDC was not happy with the way agents of the security services had been harassing some MPs under the guise of court orders or warrant.
The minority chief whip recalled that agents of the security services on Monday, July 24, raided the residence of the MP for Pru East, Dr Kwabena Donkor, for some documents on the AMERI deal and in the process, his laptop and pen drives were seized.
And yesterday similar raids were carried out in the residences of the NDC MP for Yapei/Kusawgu, John Abdulai Jinapor and the MP for Bolgatanga East, Dr Dominic Ayine, by the security operatives for a similar reason.
Muntaka therefore appealed to the Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike Oquaye, to use his good offices to write to the Director of CID that on Monday, July 31, 2017, the aforementioned NDC MPs would not be able to report to the CID headquarters because they would be discharging parliamentary duties.
Parliament will be hosting the Minister of Finance on Monday for the presentation of the mid-year review of the 2017 budget statement, and therefore the house would sit and eventually rise on Wednesday, August 2.
The majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, supported the argument of the minority chief whip, saying that MPs are insulated under Article 117 and Order 22 from police arrests and court orders in the course of the performance of their official duties.
He said even if such arrests must be effected, request must be made through the speaker for permission before they (arrests) could be made.
Prof Mike Oquaye said that he would immediately communicate with the CID boss over the invitation that on Monday the MPs would not be available.
He said as far as he remained the speaker of parliament, he would ensure that the people’s representatives were protected and the dignity of the legislature also protected.
He said his office would collaborate with the authorities of the security agencies to ensure that they use the appropriate channels to invite MPs for any investigations.