Manner of attempted arrest of Sosu offends Constitution-Speaker of Parliament

Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin

The Speaker of Parliament has reacted to the manner in which the police attempted to arrest Mr Francis-Xavier Kojo Sosu, MP of Madina Constituency as offending the Constitution of Ghana.

He described the attempted arrest of the legislator last Sunday, 31st October 2021, in church as ”surreptitious”, offending both the letter, and spirit that underpins the current 1992 Constitution of Ghana.

“The appropriate procedure is to secure from the Speaker, a certificate that the Member in question is not attending Parliamentary Business. Anything short of this should not be entertained by the House,” Mr Eric Owusu Mensah, Deputy Clerk of Parliament, acting for the Clerk of Parliament, wrote in a press release on the instructions of the Speaker.

The release made available on the WhatsApp platform page of the Parliamentary Press Corps, said the Speaker has taken note, also, of press releases and the posture of the Police Service including the interdiction of Inspector Daniel Agbavor, the Police Officer providing personal protection of Mr Sosu.

According to the release, the Speaker found it difficult to comprehend the attempted arrest of the legislator, and that “the Speaker acknowledges that Members of Parliament are not above the law.”

And “the issue is not that a Member of Parliament cannot be investigated or arrested. The issue is the procedure to follow to investigate or arrest a Member of Parliament.”

The Speaker noted that “several Members of Parliament from both sides of the House have been investigated, arraigned before court and tried since 1993. Some Members are presently before various Courts of law or investigative bodies. “

The release noted the House had cooperated with the Police and other security agencies, in investigation of Members of the House from both sides over years, “and in all instances the Office of the Speaker has engaged and facilitated the work of the Police Service.”

The Speaker said the release did not seek to suggest that Members of Parliament and Parliament were not subject to the Law.

Equally, the release observed that “the Police Service is a vassal of the Constitution and Statute passed by Parliament, and formed part of the Public Service of Ghana and equally must not hold itself above the law.

The Speaker said immunities and privileges of a Member of Parliament are borne out by experience from various democracies around the world, and being part of the provisions in the 1992 Constitution are for good reasons.

He referred to the 1969 Constitution of Ghana and the 1968 Constitution Commission Report of Justice Edward Akufo-Addo which he said justified “the need for parliamentary immunity from arrest and service of court processes by maintaining such immunity ensured that Members of Parliament were not distracted by arrest and detention while attending Parliamentary business. “

The release reiterated the position of the Speaker that “immunities and privileges of Members of Parliament are not absolute, and that “the procedure for causing arrest of a sitting Member of Parliament or serving court processes must be in accordance with the Constitution.”

On the interdiction of the body guard of the MP for Madina Constituency, the Speaker said he believed the action taken by the Police Service to “interdict the bodyguard of the Member of Parliament for Madina could affect the morale of all bodyguards of Members of Parliament and weaken the ability of the guards to provide the needed protection of Members of Parliament.”

The Speaker assured Ghanaians that he he swore an oath at his election as Speaker to discharge his duties and to uphold, protect and defend conscientiously the Constitution of Ghana and would continue to do just that.

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