General News Thu, 21 Nov 2002

NDC MPs to decline invitations, if

The Minority Group in Parliament has directed that its members should disregard any invitation or summons from any investigative agency or court if it is not properly channelled through the Office of the Speaker of Parliament.

According to the Minority, whereas there were reported cases of corruption against some government officials, government was not doing anything to prosecute them, and yet (government) was quick in prosecuting NDC MPs. This, they describe “as selective justice”.

The Minority made this known at a press conference at Parliament House yesterday.

Reading the press release, the Minority leader, Hon A.S.K. Bagbin, pointed out that certain events in the country had brought to the fore the question of the nature and extent of rights and privileges by Parliament as a collective body and MPs as individuals, which are all (Privileges and Immunities) spelt out in the constitution.

Hon Bagbin cited the invitation of Hon Nana Akufo-Addo to the Police Headquarters in 1999, the arrest and detention of Hon E.T. Mensah last year, the current prosecution of Hon Dan Abodakpi, MP for Keta, on a charge of wilfully causing financial loss to the state.

He said these events call for critical look into what actually constitutes the rights, privileges and immunities of Parliament and MPs under the current laws of the land.

Hon Bagbin said though Nana Akufo-Addo responded to the police call, he held a press conference later to protest against it.

In the same vein, the Minority did not only boycott Parliament in solidarity with Hon E.T. Mensah after his arrest, but also protested against the arrest of the sitting MP.

He stated that the current prosecution of Hon Dan Abodakpi, at a time when Parliament is in session, is another recent instance of executive intrusion into the field of parliamentary privileges and immunities of individual MPs.

Hon Bagbin argued that if care is not taken, a floodgate would be opened where the state apparatus would start arresting, detaining and prosecuting MPs without the knowledge of the Speaker of the House.

He said the Senior Minister, Hon J.H. Mensah, had stated on three occasions the government’s intention to prosecute and imprison all key members of the NDC especially, MPs before the next general elections.

The Minority leader questioned why after the arrest of the E.T. Mensah, Hon Dr John Abu and Hon Dr Ato Quarshie, all sitting MPs’ should be rushed through a process to prosecute them.

“We have expressly directed all members of the Minority to disregard any invitation from investigative agency or summons to court if not property channelled through the Office of the Rt Hon Speaker of Parliament”, Hon Bagbin added.

Source: DG