Members of Parliament (MPs) from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) are up in arms with the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, for shielding the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Madina, Francis Xavier Sosu, from appearing before the Police for interrogation.
They want the Speaker to follow the footsteps of his predecessors, and immediately, release Sosu to assist with investigations, since he is a person of interest to the men and women in black uniform.
The group, being the Majority Caucus, Parliament of Ghana, in a statement released on Thursday, November 4, 2021, said they were extremely concerned by the refusal of the Speaker to release the Madina to the Police for interrogation.
The Leadership of the group firmly believes that Parliament, as the law-making arm of the country’s democracy, has a constitutional, legal and moral duty to cooperate and collaborate with the Police to ensure that the rule of law prevails.To them, “Parliament must not be seen to be creating a false regime of two separate laws in Ghana – one for MPs and another for non-MPs. Instead, Parliament must ensure the equality of all citizens, including MPs, before the law”.
The Madina MP, has since Monday, October 25, 2021, been wanted by the Police for interrogation, having led his constituents to demonstrate against the state of roads in his area, an event which saw some youth allegedly destroying some properties.
Attempts by the Police to arrest Sosu on that day proved futile as he was whisked away in his car by the rampaging youth.
Further attempts to arrest him in his church and other places have all proved futile, with the last attempt being at the Believers House of Prayer Church in Madina, where the MP was worshipping on Sunday, October 31, 2021, to effect his arrest.
The action of the Police was against a directive issued by the Speaker and addressed to the Director-General, Criminal Investigation Division of the Ghana Police Service on Thursday, October 28, 2021, informing him that he was unable to release the Madina MP for interrogation since Parliament had commenced sitting of the 3rd Meeting of the 1st Session of the 8th Parliament and also having regard to the limitations of Article 117 and 118 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.
The Police had on Wednesday, October 27, 2021, written to the Speaker, requesting him to release Sosu to assist in investigations.
Rt. Hon. Bagbin, had earlier on the same Wednesday, October 27, 2021, referred ACP Isaac Kojo Asante and ACP Eric Winful of the Accra Regional Police Command and the Adentan Divisional Police Command to the Privileges Committee of Parliament over alleged breach of parliamentary privilege and contempt after Sosu had lodged a complaint to the Speaker on the floor of the House about the conduct of the two Police Officers.
However, the Leadership of the Majority Caucus in their statement said they “view the foregoing response by Speaker Bagbin as a troubling departure from how his predecessors handled such requests. To avoid doubt, when both Rt. Hons. Joyce Bamford Addo and Edward Doe Adjaho received those requests during their days in office, they responded by inviting the relevant MPs, held discussions with them, and then asked them to report to the requesting Police or investigative authorities”.
They added “Again, during his tenure as Speaker, Rt. Hon. Professor Mike Oquaye modified the arrangement, including making the Speaker’s Conference Room available to the Police to meet with MPs they were interested in and to conduct initial investigations. He did this to protect the dignity of MPs while at the same time ensuring that MPs are not put above the law. At all these times, Hon. Bagbin, as he then was, had been part of the leadership of the House”.
In the view, Rt. Hon. Bagbin appears to be instituting new rules that seem to undermine the rule of law without any prior discussion with the Leadership of the House, wondering what might have caused the change.
“As a group, the Majority believes firmly that constitutionally guaranteed immunity for MPs in our democracy must not be only be protected always but jealously guarded as well. However, never should we, as a Parliament, make the mistake of allowing immunity to be construed to mean impunity”, the statement issued by the Leadership of the Majority in part read.