General News Fri, 2 Sep 2016

Minority describes Speaker's action as whimsical

The Minority Caucus in Parliament has described the ruling by the Speaker of Parliament in dismissing its motion for a probe into the Ford Expedition gift to President John Dramani Mahama as the “most cabalistic display of power witnessed in Parliament since the beginning of the Fourth Republic”.

According to the Minority, while not contesting the discretionary powers given to the Speaker to admit or not to admit questions, motions and proposals submitted to him, he ought to, in the exercise of such powers, be regulated within the confines of the Constitution.

Addressing a press conference after the Speaker had ruled against the Minority’s motion for a special parliamentary committee to probe the gift to the President, the Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said the Speaker’s application of those powers should not be a “whimsical display of power and, indeed, arrogance”.

Parliament cannot be subordinated to CHRAJ

“In this ruling, the Speaker tells us and tells Parliament, the country and, indeed, the entire world, that Parliament, in exercising our oversight responsibilities, should stall all activities and subordinate ourselves to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), an administrative body,” he fumed.

He said it was unthinkable for the Speaker to ask an arm of government to subordinate itself to CHRAJ because the matter involved an issue of corruption and based it on a ruling of the Supreme Court.

“If you are to follow the ruling of the Speaker, then a recent case against some judges which also involved corruption ought to have gone to CHRAJ and not the courts,” he opined, and questioned the “strange” ruling by the Speaker.

He said the Speaker had the discretionary power to accept a proposal, make amendments or reject motions or proposals, “except that conventions and practice and even common sense dictate that in applying yourself to any of these pacts, you should have some engagement with the person submitting the proposal to you. I think that is common-sensical and that is the practice of any established Parliament”.

Good reasons for the probe

Explaining the intent of the Minority in calling for the probe, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said Parliament was the body vested with oversight authority over the Executive in such matters, since it was composed of persons who represented the people of the country.

The case of the Burkinabe contractor, he said, was the subject of a report that had been presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament and that if the argument of allowing CHRAJ to investigate the case should hold sway, it would be dangerous, since the report of CHRAJ would be submitted to the Attorney-General, an appointee of the President.

“Indeed, Article 218 (e) of the Constitution provides for the report of CHRAJ in the matter to be submitted to the Attorney-General, the appointee of the President, to deal with the conclusions of CHRAJ. The matter would be dead at birth and that is why Parliament must assume its legitimate role,” he posited.

The motion, therefore, he said, sought to invite the House to invoke its powers of oversight to constitute a bi-partisan committee to delve into the matters raised to establish, at the end of its inquiry, whether or not the conduct of the President was above board.

“If the President’s conduct is found to be above board, the President shall stand vindicated eternally. If, on the other hand, the President’s conduct is found to be inappropriate, Parliament, in its wisdom and within the ambit of the Constitution, could proffer the relevant recommendations in order that such conduct shall not have further procreations,” he explained.

Quick Read

The Minority Caucus in Parliament has expressed shock and disgust at the decision by the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, to rule out a motion asking for a probe into the Ford Expedition gift to President John Dramani Mahama by a Burkinabe contractor.

Source: Graphic.com.gh
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