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Ken Agyapong to face Parliament's privileges committee

BY: Musah Yahaya Jafaru

The Member of Parliament for Assin Central, Mr Kennedy Agyapong, has been dragged to the Privileges Committee of Parliament over his purported contemptuous utterances against Parliament and the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.

The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, referred Mr Agyapong to the Privileges Committee on Wednesday, following a motion moved by the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka.

Ahaji Muntaka said he had an audio and 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 that “if this House were not useless, they would not have the likes of Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu as its leader”.

“Mr Speaker, I find this to be very offensive, unbecoming of a Member of Parliament (MP) and for the past weeks, he has been on rampaging insults,” he said.

Alhaji Muntaka said the 1992 Constitution gave everyone the right to offer his or her views on issues that were going on in the country.


It is worrying for some people, more so a Member of Parliament, to attack individuals and call them names, and to refer to the institution of Parliament as useless,” he said.

Alhaji Muntaka referred to Order 28 of the Standing Orders which clearly states:  “An act or omission which obstructs or impedes Parliament in the performance of its functions or which obstructs or impedes a member or officer of Parliament in the discharge of his duty or affront the dignity of Parliament or which tends to either directly or indirectly produce such a result be in contempt of Parliament.”

Again, Order 30 (2) status:  “Any act or omission which affronts the dignity of Parliament or which tends to either directly or indirectly bring the name of Parliament into disrepute is contempt of Parliament.’’

 “I think these comments and insults, not only to the Majority Leader but to many others and to Parliament, are not only defamatory but libelous, and contemptuous,” he said.

He, therefore, moved that Mr Agyapong be referred to the Privileges Committee on the basis of his conduct and utterances against the House, against the Majority Leader and against other well-meaning Ghanaians.

More support

The MP for Abuakwa South, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, the MP for Tamale Central, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, the MP for Wa West, Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, and the Majority Chief Whip, Mr Kwasi Ameyaw Cheremeh, all supported the call for Mr Agyapong to be referred to the Privileges Committee for interrogation.

Commenting on the issue, Mr Atta Akyea said he thought somebody was not behaving well outside and the House must, therefore, call him to order.

He said if some MPs decided to denigrate the House in any medium, “then we are not worth to be in the House”.

“The capacity to control your behaviour is evidence of maturity, and if in the fit of anger, you want to denigrate this House and the leader and the rest of them, then it is wrong,” he said.

Mr Atta Akyea said if Mr Agyapong had said that Parliament was an assembly of buffoons, then it should be investigated.

“Although I used to defend him as an attorney, on this occasion this House is so big and important. I take my significance from here, so if somebody wants to smear this House, no matter how exalted that person is, I will not endorse it,” he said.

Ruling

Giving his ruling, Mr Osei-Owusu said if, indeed, Mr Agyapong had uttered those words that “this House is a foolish assembly of members”, the comments are clearly against Order 28 and Order 30 (B), which orders are a replication of the Constitutional Provision Article 122”.

“In that circumstance, I apply Order 31: “In all cases of proceedings, where a complaint is made of a breach of privilege, contempt of Parliament, the Speaker may direct that the matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges.

“In the circumstances, I direct that Mr Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, the Honourable Member for Assin Central, appear before the Privileges Committee for the committee to determine whether, indeed, he uttered those words which are attributed to him, and if so recommend the appropriate sanctions to the House,” he said.