Privileges Committee Begins Work On Three Absentee MPs; Presents Reports In 2 Wks

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Ghana Parliament
Ghana Parliament

The Privileges Committee of Parliament is to start discussing the mechanisms for its sittings regarding a petition brought to it by a former MP for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak, in connection with the continued absence from parliament of four MPs of the majority caucus.

The Committee has two weeks to present a report to the house.

The Ranking Member of the Committee, Mr Kweku Ricketts-Hagan, spoke to the media about it: “On the 26th of May, we will meet with Henry Quartey, the 27th of May will be the turn of Adwoa Safo, and then on the 31st of May, we will meet with Kennedy Agyapong. We will discuss the modalities at today’s meeting.”

Mr Mubarak petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Bagbin, to enforce Article 97(1)c of the 1992 Constitution by referring some four MPs to the Privileges Committee for absenting themselves for more than 15 days without permission.

The targets are Sarah Adwoa Safo, MP for Dome-Kwabenya; Henry Quartey, MP for Ayawaso Central; Ebenezer Kojo Kum, MP for Ahanta West; and Ken Ohene Agyapong, MP for Assin Central.

According to the ex-lawmaker, the Standing Orders of Parliament are not clear as to who can or should raise the matter of absenteeism on the floor of the House for a debate and, or referral by Mr Speaker to the Committee on Privileges but it is incidences like this, if unattended to, that threatens Ghana’s democracy.

Quoting an Afrobarometer data, Mr Mubarak said trust in Parliament has fallen by 12 per cent between 2002 and 2019.

The report, he said, ranked Parliament as the third corrupt institution in the country – just behind the police and judges.

“I humbly submit that democracy can only work if Parliament puts the common good ahead of party and personal interest. At a time of seeming collapse of trust in politics and Parliament as an institution, it is my fervent prayer that the House would rise to the occasion and be united on this matter, so as to uphold our constitution and also win back waned public confidence,” the petition stated.

Below is the full petition:

The Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament,

Parliament House,

Osu Accra.

2nd March 2022.

Dear Mr. Speaker,

PETITION TO ENFORCE ARTICLE 97(1)C OF 1992 CONSTITUTION:

I write to petition your high office to respectfully enforce the provisions of Article 97(1)c of the 1992 constitution of Ghana and parliament’s Standing Order number 16(1).

It has come to my notice through parliament’s Hansard, and newspaper and radio reports that some four Members of Parliament, namely Hon. Sarah Adwoa Safo, MP for Dome-Kwabenya; Hon. Henry Quartey, MP for Ayawaso Central; Hon. Ebenezer Kojo Kum, MP for Ahanta West; and Hon. Ken Ohene Agyapong, MP for Assin Central have all absented themselves from Parliament for more than fifteen sittings of a meeting of Parliament without the permission of Mr Speaker in writing.

In view of this reported breach of the constitutional provision, I respectfully petition your high office to direct for their conduct to be referred to the Privileges Committee for consideration and necessary action.

Mr Speaker may recall that in the 7th Parliament, the people of Lower West Akyem did not have representation in Parliament for nearly two years, as their then MP had been absent for more than fifteen sittings of several meetings of Parliament without the permission of Mr Speaker in writing. The leadership of the House at the time swept the absence of the MP, which conduct breached the 1992 constitution and Standing Order 16(1) of the Standing Orders of Parliament under the rug.

The Standing Orders of Parliament is not clear as to who can or should raise the matter of absenteeism on the floor of the House for a debate and or referral by Mr Speaker to the Committee on Privileges. But it is incidences like this, if unattended to that threaten our democracy.

According to the Afrobarometer data, trust in Parliament has fallen by 12% between 2002 and 2019. The report ranked Parliament as the third corrupt institution in our country – just behind the Police and Judges.

I humbly submit that democracy can only work if Parliament puts the common good ahead of party and personal interest. At a time of seeming collapse of trust in politics and Parliament as an institution, it is my fervent prayer that the House would rise to the occasion and be UNITED on this matter, so as to uphold our constitution and also win back waned public confidence.

Respectfully Submitted:

Ras Mubarak NTHC

Prestige Homes, South Side, Otanor Accra.

cc: 1st Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Parliament House, Osu.

2nd Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Parliament House, Osu.

The Majority Leader, Parliament House, Osu

The Minority Leader, Parliament House, Osu

The Majority Chief Whip Parliament House, Osu.

The Minority Chief Whip, Parliament House, Osu.

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