The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, on Wednesday, directed the Privileges Committee of Parliament to look into motion of contempt against Mr Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, MP for Assin Central, for allegedly threatening a journalist, and report back to the House. When the Committee finishes investigating the motion and submits it report, the plenary would then decide if the Assin Central MP might be in contempt of the House.
The Speaker’s directive follows an application by Mr Alhassan Suhuyini, MP for Tamale North, through a motion, complaining of comments allegedly made by the Assin Central MP, who is also the Chairman of Defence and Interior Committee of the House.
Quoting sections of the Standing Orders of Parliament, Mr Suhuyini prayed the Speaker to refer the Assin Central MP “whose acts and conduct continued to affront the dignity of Parliament and brought it into disrepute” to the Privileges Committee.
Mr Suhuyini observed that Mr Agyapong had said on his own network, Net Two Tv, that if he had been the President of Ghana, he would have beaten Erastus Asare Donkor , one the journalists of the the Multimedia group, based at Kumasi.
Mr Suhuyini, also a journalist, said the Multimedia Group, had filed a formal complaint against the Assin Central MP, to the Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) for threatening the life of Mr Asare Donkor.
“Mr Speaker, for those utterances to be attributed to a Committee Chairman of this House, I think it calls for the attention of this House….” he said.
“For the Chairman of the Committee of Defence and the Interior to go public and urge the President, the Commander in Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces to beat people and physically assault people….
“He says that Erastus Asare Donkor should be beaten seriously,” Mr Suhuyini said and recalled that the alleged utterances of Mr Agyapong were similar to those he made in relation to Ahmed Suale, a journalist, who was later murdered.
Mr Suhuyini said as a former journalist, he felt obliged to draw the attention of the House to the comments of the ‘Honourable Member”, which he described as “unbecoming of the Member”.
The Tamale North MP urged the Speaker to exercise his powers under the Standing Orders of the House and refer the conduct of the member to the Privileges Committee for investigations for possible appropriate sanctions to serve as deterrent against unguarded statements by any member.
Mr Agyapong reportedly said Mr Asare Donkor was to blame for the Ejura Disturbances that led to the death of two persons and the injury of four, on Tuesday, June 29.
According to him, his report linked the assault and resultant death of 45-year-old Ibrahim Muhammed, alias Kaaka, to his involvement in the #Fix the Country campaign and incited the violent demonstration.
Mr Asare has denied the allegation before the Ministerial Committee investigating the Disturbances.
Reacting to Mr Suhuyini’s motion, Deputy Majority Leader Alexander Afenyo-Markin, however, prayed the Speaker to request the applicant to procure the substance of the allegation in order to establish a prima facie case on the allegation.
He argued that the applicant only referred to a supposed letter from Joy Fm to the Police.
Mr Afenyo-Markin cautioned that the House maybe sacrificing procedure in “creating a new path” if the procedures were not followed.
Speaker Babgin, after First Deputy Minority Chief Whip Ibrahim Ahmed had applied for the Speaker to overrule the application for prima facie, directed the Privileges Committee, chaired by the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu, for the enquiry.
Speaker Bagbin expressed confidence in the abilities of the First Deputy Speaker to execute a good job as he also asked the House to throw its support behind the Committee in doing its work.
Speaker Bagbin, however, cautioned the MPs that their privileges in making free utterances did not go beyond their work at Parliamentary Committees and at the plenary.
He advised them against making unguarded statements in the mass media and in public.