The Minority, through its leader Osei Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu, earlier in August in the motion, called on the House to investigate the receipt or otherwise of the vehicle by the President, if receipt infringed on any of the Laws of Ghana and on his (President’s) Code of Conduct.
The House which had been on recess since July was recalled following the motion to the Speaker.
Proceedings for the day started about midday rather than the stipulated 1000 hours, and business for the day lasted for less than 10 minutes after prayers.
After the Speakers ruling at the well-attended plenary, the Majority side displayed placards that made mockery of the Minority’s insistence on a parliamentary inquest into the Ford gift to the President.
Mr Adjaho, addressing the House, dismissed the motion on the grounds that the matter was being considered by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHJRAJ), recalling that some political parties and personalities had taken the matter to that state institution for investigation.
He said upon receipt of the motion he sought to find out whether the matter was under investigation at the CHRAJ and consequently directed the Clerk of Parliament to conduct a search that proved the matter was under investigation there.
The Speaker said the search showed that there were three petitions before the Commission and that the matter currently before CHRAJ was no different in shape or form from the motion brought by the Minority.
Quoting Articles 286 and 287 of the Constitution that gives the CHRAJ the power to investigate matters of corruption and breach of code of conduct, he said: “I am firmly convinced CHRAJ is the only mandated body to probe this case.”
The Speaker also referred to a Supreme Court judgement in a case in which Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Dr Edward Omane-Boamah sued the late Mr Jake Obetsebi Lamptey for abusing his office in his purchase of a state bungalow.
Mr Ablakwa and Dr Omane-Boamah are now serving as deputy ministers of Education and Communications respectively, while the late Obetsebi Lamptey served in the erstwhile Kufuor Administration in different capacities, including Minister of State of different portfolios.
Speaker Adjaho said the Supreme Court had made a number of rulings on the exclusive jurisdiction of constitutionally mandated bodies, including the CHRAJ, on dealing with the Code of Conduct of public officers, including the President.
The Speaker, dismissing the motion, said the House was bound by the interpretation of the Constitution by the Supreme Court, saying; “It is my view that CHRAJ is the institution vested with the exclusive authority to investigate the matter relating to the Ford gift.”
The Speaker invoked constitutional provisions that empowered him to exercise discretionary powers and said; “As Speaker, I’m of the firm belief that constitutional bodies must respect each other in order to avoid conflict.”
He directed the Clerk of Parliament to return the motion to the member in whose name it stood and adjourned the House sine die.
Earlier at a press conference on Wednesday, Majority Leader Alban Bagbin said the recall was unnecessary and a waste of public resources, counting the cost of transporting legislators and other ancillary staff of parliament back and forth, logistics, publicity and the risk involved in travelling.
He said the motion was a ploy by the Minority to throw as much dirt on the President before the December 7 elections.
But the Minority, in a rebuttal after the proceedings, told a press conference addressed by its leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu that the Speaker’s rejection of the motion was a “cabalistic display of power that we have witnessed since the Fourth Republic began.”
He described the Speaker’s decision to quash the motion as “whimsical and capricious”, saying the side was disappointed the Speaker ceded the powers of parliament to CHRAJ and that the House had lost a good opportunity to invoke its powers of oversight on the Executive.
Mr Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu said the call for the inquest into the president’s receipt of the said gift was a matter that had been brought before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament and the Minority was only asking the House to exercise its oversight responsibility over the conduct of a public official, including the President.
He explained further that had the Speaker allowed the motion to go through, it would have been a good opportunity for President Mahama to clear himself of the tag of bribery and corruption currently trending.
“There is no institution better than Parliament to have investigated this issue,” the Minority Leader said, adding that if the Speaker’s ruling was anything to go by, then the recent judicial scandal involving some judges should have been referred to the CHRAJ and not the courts.
He said the Speaker arbitrarily exercised his powers of discretion in dismissing the case.
It will be recalled that a journalist, Manasseh Azuri Awuni, reported that a Burkinabe contractor, Mr Jibril Kanozoe gifted a Ford Expedition vehicle to President Mahama in 2012.
According to Awuni, that same year, Kanazoe was awarded two contracts – the fencing of the Ghana Embassy in Burkina Faso at a cost of $650,000 and the construction of part of the Eastern
Corridor Road Project.
Source: GNA/News Ghana