Speaker dismisses motion to investigate MBG sale

Doe Adjaho nn

Doe Adjaho nn



Accra, Jan. 7, GNA -The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho on Monday dismissed a motion filed by a Minority Member of Parliament, demanding legislative inquest into the acquisition of the Merchant Bank Ghana by Fortis Equity Funds Limited.

Mr Adjaho 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 presently 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 after the Member for Bimbilla, Dominic Nitiwul, backed by 80 other Minority MPs, requested for the summoning of Parliament to enable him move a Private Members motion for the investigation of the offer and acquisition of the bank.

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)

Accordingly, the motion calling on this House to investigate the offer by and acquisition of Merchant Bank by Fortiz Equity Fund Limited and other related matters is ruled out of order. I must quickly add that there are other tools available to this House that we can utilize if the House so decides, said Speaker Adjaho.

Resting 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, Mr Adjaho said since the case had two legs in court and a third at the Appeals Court, discussions on the issue would not be beneficial to the parties in the case.

He further stated that the relationship that must exist between the legislature and the judiciary should be based on mutual respect and trust.

The MBG take-over by Fortis Equity Fund has dominated discussions in the media for more than a month, with the controversial issue overly drawing partisan and social considerations, necessitating civil society organization calling for inquiry into the transaction to clear lingering doubts about the deal. 

Many of the voices calling for the scrutiny of the transaction, contended that there was no value for money in the deal, questioning the propriety of giving off a priceless national asset to an institution whose portofolio held no experience in that sphere over better experienced  establishment who were ready to bid more money for less shares in the bank.

The case was sent to court, and the court ruled that the plaintiff had no locus to sue. The issue has been referred to an Appeals Court.

But Fortiz Equity Fund has since taken over 90 percent of shares in the Merchant bank.

Before Mr Adjaho read his decision, the Majority side cautioned that investigating the transaction would amount to an infringement on the powers of the Judiciary

They argued that since the courts were dealing with the issue, Parliament should not interfere in the process.

However, the Minority insisted that matters of public interested should override every other consideration and that since the sale and acquisition of MBG was of urgent public importance, Parliament should cause an investigation into matter.

Paapa Owusu Ankomah, MP for Sekondi said Parliament as a representative of the people had the power to do anything and everything provided it is not in confusion with the Constitution.

He said despite the Houses own the Standing Orders  that impedes the reference to matters pending in courts, Parliament should not consider that provision as an obstacle to its powers because it will be extremely dangerous to do so, cautioning that the house should hasten slowly in tying its hands.

Moments after the ruling, both sides of the House took turns to brief the media on their stand on the Speakers decision, with the majority insisting that the MBG take-over transaction was conducted in conformity with all the laws of Ghana under the supervision of the BOG and expressed confidence that the new stakeholders will lift the MBG out of its present predicament.

The Minority however, said that the Speakers decision not to allow the motion was a dangerous precedent because people would use court issues to escape legislative scrutiny and that the side would adopt other means to sustain the fight against the sale of the bank.

GNA

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