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Parliamentary Privileges Committee ban media from covering 3 absentee MPs hearing

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong
Parliamentary Privileges Committee ban media from covering 3 absentee MPs hearing
MPs Ken Agyapong, Adwoa Safo and Henry Quartey

The issue of absenteeism in Parliament where three Members of Parliament (MPs) have been referred to the Privileges Committee of Parliament for absenting themselves without permission from the Speaker will be heard in camera.

The committee will start hearing the three absentee MPs, with Henry Quartey for Ayawaso Central as the first person followed by Sarah Adwoa Safo for Dome Kwabenya and then Kennedy Ohene Agyapong for Assin Central.

The hearings will start on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, referred the three New Patriotic Party (NPP) MPs to the Privileges Committee of Parliament for absenting themselves from the House for more than 15 sitting days without his permission.

But at a meeting of the committee on Wednesday (May 25, 2022), the members concluded that the media would not be admitted to cover the hearing.

This is contrary to previous meetings and hearings of the 31-member committee which had been covered by the media.

The problem of absenteeism in the House without permission from the Speaker had been a long-standing issue which needed to be addressed holistically.

Hence, when the recent one came to the attention of the Speaker, he referred it to the Committee of Privileges to look into it.

Related article: Referral of 3 MPs to Committee will address absenteeism - Prof. Agyemang-Duah

The findings of the committee could lead to the expulsion of the absentee MPs from Parliament if the report suggests so and is adopted by the plenary.

Explaining why the media has been banned from covering the proceedings, a member of the committee, Kweku Ricketts Hagan, NDC MP for Cape Coast South explained that "the nature of evidence as we've been hinted might be on medical grounds..."

"And it is on that basis that the [Privileges] Committee came to that conclusion that it would be best that we give the opportunity for people to come and be able to come and be able to discuss with us, charged with that responsibility on what the reasons were or the evidence.

"Of course, when we are done with our work, we will put a report together and seeing the report, it will establish the reason why we recommended that a member should have a legitimate reason to still stay in Parliament or not and I think that will become a public information," Kweku Ricketts Hagan, a member of the Committee of Privileges said in a radio interview with Accra based Citi FM on Wednesday evening [May 25, 2022] monitored by Graphic Online.

Pressed further on why previous meetings of the committee had been covered by the media and this time around the media is being prevented from allowing the public to witness the proceedings, Mr Hagan said: "You are querying me on a decision that has been taken by the committee."

"I'm telling you the committee's decision is that, we didn't think that it will be appropriate to discuss what is likely to be health matters, because we know that at least two of them or all three of them have been dealing with some medical issues and we thought that it will not be appropriate," Mr Hagan added.

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