May 26, 2022

Bagbin Declines Muntaka’s Motion Against Probe Of Absentee MPs

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Bagbin has declined a motion by the Member of Parliament for Asawase Constituency and the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, against the referral of three Members of Parliament to the Privileges Committee for absenting themselves from fifteen parliamentary sittings without a written request for permission.

Following the Speaker’s directive to the Privileges Committee of Parliament to probe the issue, Muntaka filed a motion seeking to reverse the directive.

But a memo to Muntaka from the Principal Assistant Clerk of Parliament dated May 16, 2022, notified the Minority Chief Whip about the declined motion.

“I have been directed by the clerk of Parliament to kindly notify you that Rt Hon. Speaker pursuant to Order 79(4) of the Standing Orders declined admission to the motion (copy attached) filed by you on subject of absence without permission”, the memo said.

This means the Parliament will go ahead with the probe.

The Speaker Of Parliament Alban Bagbin on April 5, 2022, referred three New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament to the Committee of Privileges of Parliament over absenteeism.
Article 97 (1)(c) of the constitution says that a seat in Parliament will be declared vacant “if he (an MP) is absent, without the permission in writing of the Speaker and he is unable to offer a reasonable explanation to the Parliamentary Committee on Privileges from fifteen sittings of a meeting of Parliament during any period that Parliament has been summoned to meet and continues to meet”.

Speaking in reference to this Article and Parliament Standing Order, the Speaker of Parliament pinpointed the three MPs who included Member of Parliament for Assin Central constituency, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, Member of Parliament for Dome Kwabenya constituency, Sarah Adwoa Sarfo, and Member of Parliament for Ayawaso Central Constituency, Henry Quartey.
The Speaker of Parliament noted that records show that the three legislators have violated the fifteen sittings of a meeting of Parliament threshold as well as the permission in writing form directive.

The Speaker charged the Privileges Committee to deal with the issues with the necessary urgency and seriousness it deserves and then submit their report two weeks after the House reconvenes for voting.

In reaction to this, the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak called on his colleagues to join hands in resisting the action of the Speaker in referring the three to the Privileges Committee of Parliament. He indicated that the House must not entertain petitions from people outside Parliament. He argued that “We will be doing ourselves disservice” to consider such a petition in the future when Parliament chances on a dictator as a Speaker.

But the Speaker of Parliament held that the petition to refer the three MPs to the Privileges Committee was addressed to himself and not to Parliament. He said it is for “me to exercise my constitutional mandate”.

On the part of the majority caucus, the referral of the issue to the committee was not contested but they argued that the decision on whether to retain the MPs or expel them is with the Privilege Committee of Parliament to take and not for the plenary to vote upon.

Member of Parliament for Nandom Constituency, Ambrose Dery said “It will be unconstitutional for the Privileges Committee to bring their report in the plenary to be voted upon”.

“The only disagreement I have is to submit the report for voting” Majority leader in Parliament, Kyei Mensah Bonsu added.

Source: Fuseini

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