Speaker’s ruling on absentee Adwoa Safo dragged to Supreme Court for interpretation
The ruling by the Speaker of Parliament in the absentee Members of Parliament issue has been dragged to the Supreme Court for interpretation.
It is the Member of Parliament for Ahafo Ano North, Sulemana Adamu Sanid, who has dragged the issue to the Supreme Court.
Why Supreme Court?
According to the Ahafo Ano North MP, he disagrees with the Speaker's ruling.
He wants the Supreme Court to clarify the operationalisation of Article 97 (1) (c) to be sure if the ruling by the Speaker of Parliament was in consonance with the 1992 Constitution.
According to counsel for Mr Sanid, Andy Kwame Appiah-Appiah, to them, they think the Court of Appeal has already made a determination on the matter in the case of Kwaku Asare [Kwaku Azar] vs Attorney General and that in instances like that, it is an "automatic vacation of the seat" and that the only job for the Committee of Privileges in Parliament is for the affected MP to offer an explanation why he or she was unable to attend Parliament.
He said the only determination the Committee has to make "is the reasonableness or otherwise of the explanation without more", and that is the mandate the Constitution gives to the Committee.
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban S.K. Bagbin on Wednesday ruled that the plenary should debate and decide on the report by the Committee of Privileges on the three absentee Members of Parliament.
In a ruling Wednesday morning, Mr Bagbin said the House should debate whether or not the seat of the Dome-Kwabenya MP, Sara Adwoa Safo should be declared vacant.
Mr Bagbin, in his ruling, recommended that the decision to declare the seat of an MP who had absented him or herself for 15 sittings of a meeting rested with the plenary and not a committee.
He therefore said the report of the Privileges Committee, which recommended that the seat be declared vacant should be adopted and debated by the plenary for the final decision on the fate of the MP to be taken.
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu reacting, expressed disagreement with the Speaker's ruling.
Including Kennedy Ohene Agyapong for Assin Central and Henry Quartey for Ayawaso Central, the three MPs absented themselves for more than 15 sittings during the first meeting of the second session of Parliament without permission from the Speaker.
The three had been referred by the Speaker to the Privileges Committee to explain the reasons for their absence.
In line with the Standing Orders, the three absentee MPs were referred to the Privileges Committee to explain why they absented themselves for 15 days in alleged violation of Article 97(1) (c) of the Constitution and the Standing Orders of Parliament.
Ohene Agyapong and Quartey appeared before the committee and offered explanations for which the committee has recommended that their explanations are reasonable and therefore their seats should not be declared vacant.
However, in the case of Sara Adwoa Safo, she did not appear before the committee and according to the committee's report, a number of efforts made to get her to offer explanation even via a zoom call was unsuccessful.
They have therefore recommended that the Dome-Kwabenya seat should be declared vacant.