Majority cites Minority for contempt on Speaker

Accra , Jan 10, GNA – The Majority Leader, Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor on Thursday described as contemptuous the Minority’s public dissent on the ruling made last Monday by the Speaker Of Parliament, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, dismissing a motion seeking the House to investigate the sale and acquisition of Merchant Bank.

He said once the Minority chose not to engage the Speaker under the Standing Orders of the House, but resorted to discuss his ruling in the Media, the issue was a matter for the Privileges Committee, since it amounted to contempt of the Speaker.

The Minority held a press conference addressed by its Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu on Thursday, accusing the Speaker of bias, and for pre-determining the outcome of a Private Member’s motion, filed by the MP for Bimbilla, Mr Dominci Nitiwul, backed by over 80 other minority law-makers, wanting the House to force an inquest into the Merchant Bank Ghana (MBG) sale to Fortiz Equity Fund Limited.

The Minority insisted that the deal lacked transparency, and the there was the need to ensure value for money for those whose pensions the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) managed.

“What they have done is very contemptuous of the Speaker, because the Standing Orders of the House are very clear on this matters”, said Dr Kumbuor, when he spoke to the Ghana News Agency in reaction to the import of the Minority’s press conference in Accra.

“As long as you don’t engage the Speaker under the Standing Orders and you choose to do so publicly, it amounts to contempt, and it is a matter for the Privileges Committee.

“The consequences are that he the (Speaker) will refer you to the Privileges Committee”

“Well, for them to have used the press conference to mention the Speaker’s name, the consequences are quite clear and I hope when it gets to that point, they are not going to say the speaker is engaged in witch-hunting”, he said.

“If you think the speaker has exercised his discretion in a matter that offends say Article 296, we are all to defend the Constitution, you know what to do. You can go to court on the matter to say that Order 93(1) that gave the speaker the discretion, was abused and you adduce facts to show why the discretion was abused.

“You can even actually come on a substantive motion to ask that the Speaker re-considers his stand on the matter. At least, in our Standing Orders, these are the positions, it doesn’t include holding a press conference on what the speaker ruled,’ the Majority Leader argued.

Dr Kunbuor said the Speaker, for political expediency, may decide not to engage the whole caucus on the matter, “but single out the person who read the press statement and cite him for contempt, particularly when improper motives were imputed on the part of the Speaker.

He said the likely sanctions could range from the rendering of an apology or suspension from the House for a number of days depending, on the recommendations of the Privileges Committee.

The Speaker last Monday in dismissing the motion by the Minority seeking Parliamentary investigation into the sale and acquisition of MBG, reasoned that both the Legislature and the Judiciary could not determine an issue simultaneously and that the House stood prejudicing the outcome of a case that was before a law court, if it admitted the motion that sought to scrutinize the transaction.

The House was recalled from recess by the Speaker pursuant to article 112(3) of the Constitution. And the Minority also sought to invite the Governor of the Bank of Ghana and the Board of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to appear before Parliament to answer questions on the sale of Merchant Bank Ghana (MBG).

The Speaker rested his decision on Order 93(1) of the Standing Orders of the House that enjoins the legislature not to deliberate on issues in court in such a manner that, that discussion would prejudice the parties to such cases, and guided by previous rulings on such cases by his predecessors and other jurisdictions.

But the Minority described the Speaker’s decision to disallow the motion as ‘just one side of the equation’, imputing bias in his conduct and alleging that his ruling on the issue had been prepared long before Parliament sat last Monday.

‘It took the Speaker 15 minutes to read a ruling in which he cited many authorities and which he alleges to have researched and written in one hour…A ruling usually take into consideration issues raised or expressed by parties in a matter.

The Minority also alleged that the Speaker pretended to encourage both sides of the House to find a common ground on the matter. but later evidence pointed to the fact that there was a well rehearsed conspiracy to prevent the motion from being moved.


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