NDC demo over injustice to trigger parliamentary probe

The Parliament of Ghana is likely to direct its Committees on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and that of Defense and Interior to critically look into the demands of the youth wing of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that triggered their demonstration in Accra on Tuesday, July 6, 2021.

This follows a consensual proposal made by the Majority and Minority Leaders of Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu and Haruna Iddrisu, to the Speaker at a plenary sitting same day.

Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had tabled before the House, a petition he and Mr. Iddrisu, received from the NDC youth demonstrators on behalf of the Speaker who was out of jurisdiction and called for immediate action to the demands the petitioners were craving for.

The demonstrators had called on the Speaker and Parliament to ensure that citizens’ rights to life and their protection were upheld per the dictates of the 1992 Constitution by holding the police and the military accountable to the numerous injustices they have meted out to some citizens of the land.

Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who is also the Leader of Government Business in Parliament, told the First Deputy Speaker, Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu, who presided over the sitting that the matters raised by the youth wing of the opposition political party in their “March for Justice” demonstration were so critical that they ought to be thoroughly probed into, stressing that there shouldn’t be any exception considering happenings in previous years.

“Mr. Speaker, the freedom of association is guaranteed by the constitution of this country; freedom of demonstration is also guaranteed; freedom of speech is equally guaranteed by the constitution. The demonstration we are told, was about the right to life, protection of the rights of citizens of this country. That cannot be contentious. Since 1993 when we came under the dispensation of democratic rule, we’ve occasionally run into bumps of security forces who are supposed to protect lives and property clashing with citizens and Mr. Speaker, causing some frictions to citizens. These are not acceptable. We must live up to these happenings; we must also admit that they are not happenings relating to today. It happened yesterday; it happened a day before yesterday. Whatever it is, it is not good enough. I am happy that today we are seeing this demonstration. That demonstration itself was peaceful and that they the demonstrators, were protected by the same police which is commendable”, he noted.

He added “Mr. Speaker, the demonstrators came to Parliament to present a petition. That happening means that democracy is working in Ghana but that doesn’t mean that our democracy is perfect. We must correct the processes and procedures to ensure that we straighten up our living within the remit of democratic rule. It is my belief that the necessary processes will be triggered to ensure appropriate inquiry or investigations into the matters that have been referred to by the petition. I do not want us to be selective. If we are selective, we cannot achieve the purpose of investigating to protecting life. I believe that whatever has happened, it happened yesterday and it happened a day before yesterday and therefore we must refer the matter to the appropriate committee. They should be given the authority to inquire into these matters whatever they happened so that we would be able to straighten the course of our democracy”.

He then proposed that the matters raised in the petition should be referred to the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and that of the Committee on Defense and Interior to probe into the issues.

His proposal was supported by the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu.

“Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to prejudice any work that parliament will do under your guidance. Suffice it to add that the demonstration in particular, was very peaceful, it drew attention to growing hardship in the country but with particular emphasis on infractions – infraction of excesses of men in uniform – the security agencies, the police and the Ghana Armed Forces engaged in some unacceptable bestiality of unruly behavior. This parliament, I believe, will hold the police and the Ghana Armed Forces accountable as it is required of us.

Parliament remains a guardian of the fundamental rights and freedom of citizens. We have a duty to protect ourselves and the constitution; we have a duty to safeguard our democracy and we have a responsibility to ensure that Ghana remains a peaceful and stable country. We cannot achieve that if freedom of expression remains on attack, civil liberties are disrespected, and no punishment is meted out. Parliament will lead up to the calling in holding any person or institution accountable to any excesses or infractions of the law”, he underscored.

The First Deputy Speaker having listened to the argument and position taken by the two leaders advised that the matter be deferred to Wednesday for further deliberations before taken any firm directive on the matter.

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