The Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central, Mr Kennedy Agyapong, yesterday apologised to Parliament for saying that the House was cheap.
He, however, denied that he ever said Parliament was useless or that if Parliament was not useless it would not have Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu as its Majority Leader.
He rendered the apology after the Privileges Committee of Parliament had played two videos in which he was seen and heard making some comments on Oman FM and Adom FM.
The contention as to whether Mr Agyapong used the Twi words 'aye fo', literally meaning ‘it has become cheap’, or 'funu', literally meaning ‘useless’, necessitated the committee to repeat that section about three times.
Mr Agyapong said he had made that comment out of fury because the First Deputy Ashanti Regional Chairman of the NPP, Mr Kwabena Nsenkyire, had said that if he (Agyapong) was not happy with Anas Amereyaw Anas, he should go to Togo, but the Majority Leader did not come to his (Agyapong’s) defence.
"If Parliament feels offended, I apologise. I apologise to Parliament; I don't have a problem. I never said Parliament was useless. I only said Parliament was cheap (‘aye fo’). I admitted the word cheap, but not useless. I did not say that the Majority Leader was useless," he said.
He claimed that the videos were not coming from the right source and that they had also been doctored.
Mr Agyapong was dragged before the Privileges Committee of Parliament over his purported contemptuous utterances against Parliament and Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.
The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, referred Mr Agyapong to the Privileges Committee following a motion moved by Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka, who said he had an audio and a video in which Mr Agyapong referred to the House as a cheap and useless assembly.
He said Mr Agyapong had stated in the audio and video: “If this House were not useless, it would not have the likes of Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu as its leader."
The committee had already taken evidence from the witness, Alhaji Muntaka, at a pre-hearing meeting.
The first public hearing of the committee on July 3, 2018 was suspended at the preliminary stage, as three members who are all from the Central Region like Mr Agyapong had applied to recuse themselves from sitting on the case.
The three are the MP for Agona West, Ms Cynthia Mamle Morrison; the MP for Gomoa, Naana Eyiah, and the MP for Upper Denkyira West, Mr Samuel Nsowah-Djan.
Consequently, the Majority leadership nominated the MP for Adentan, Mr Yaw Buaben Asamoa; the MP for Jaman South, Mr Yaw Afful, and the MP for Ablekuma North, Mrs Nana Akua Owusu Afriyie, to replace them.
Mr Osei-Owusu offered Mr Agyapong the opportunity to determine whether he wanted to cross-examine Alhaji Muntaka for a date to be fixed for that purpose, to which Mr Agyapong said: "Once I have apologised to Parliament for using the word cheap, I don't need to ask Muntaka questions again."
Mr Osei-Owusu asked him to hold himself in readiness, and that if the committee wanted him to appear before it, it would let him know.
At the beginning of the hearing, Mr Osei-Owusu had read two memos, one on a motion filed by Mr Agyapong in Parliament challenging the regularity of the sitting of the committee and dated July 23, 2018.
The other memo, also dated July 23, 2018, informed the committee of the motion application.
Counsel for Mr Agyapong, Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin, had prayed the committee not to go ahead with its sitting till the determination of the matter in the plenary.
But Mr Osei-Owusu ruled that proceedings should go on and that if the Speaker determined that it should discontinue with its work, so be it.
Mr Afenyo-Markin again said the evidence from the witness (CDs) was inadmissible.
He said Alhaji Muntaka did not claim ownership and indicated that the appropriate media houses should rather tender the tapes.
"It will amount to unfair prejudice. The rule does not allow such," he said.
Mr Osei-Owusu said the committee was making enquiries and could request for the videos from the radio stations.
Mr Afenyo-Markin again said there was coincidence of purpose because Mr Osei-Owusu was in the Chair as the First Deputy Speaker when the motion was referred to the committee and was again sitting as the Chairman of the committee.
Again, he said, when the three nominees were being replaced, Mr Osei-Owusu was in the chair.
But Mr Osei-Owusu said when "I am presiding, I am the First Deputy Speaker, and when I am at the committee, I am the Chairman. It is the decision of the committee that will hold sway".