The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, will today determine the fate of three New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament (MPs) who absented themselves for more than 15 sittings during the first meeting of the second session.
They are the MP for Dome-Kwabenya, Sarah Adwoa Safo; the MP for Assin Central, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, and the MP for Ayawaso Central, Henry Quartey.
The three had been referred by the Speaker to the Privileges Committee to explain the reasons for their absence.
Delivering his address on the floor of Parliament Tuesday to welcome MPs from recess, Mr Bagbin said the House, in consonance with the Standing Orders of Parliament, referred the three absentee MPs to the Privileges Committee to explain why they absented themselves for the 15 days in alleged violation of Article 97(1) (c) of the Constitution and the Standing Orders of Parliament.
He said article 77 highlighted the importance of representation in Parliament during meetings and frowned on unexcused absence from the House.
He said the article imposed severe penalty for MPs who ran foul of it since MPs represented the nation, the people and the parties and added that the right to representation was fundamental to the proper functioning of democracy.
“It is gross disrespect of the nation, constituents, Parliament, parties and the Constitution for an MP to absent himself from Parliament without permission for 15 days out of approximately 48 sittings of a meeting,” he said.
The Speaker said such absenteeism potentially impeded the work of the House because it deprived it of the contributions of the member and affected the quorum requirement.
Ruling must be erudite
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, expressed the hope that the ruling by the Speaker on the absentee MPs would be “very erudite”.
“I want to believe that the ruling that will come from you tomorrow will be in sync with the Constitution,” he said.
Before the House adjourned sine die on July 28, 2022, the Speaker said when the House reconvened in October, he would give his ruling on the matter.
He told the House that he would deliver a detailed ruling on a preliminary objection raised by the Majority Leader on the matter.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu raised a preliminary objection after the Privileges Committee completed its investigation of the three MPs.
The committee, by a majority decision, recommended that the Dome-Kwabenya seat should be declared vacant since Adwoa Safo absented herself from Parliament for more than 42days without permission from the Speaker, and also refused to take advantage of an opportunity offered to her to explain
It, therefore, recommended that the seat of Ms Safo be declared vacant but the Minority opposed the recommendation on grounds that it was the entire House that should rather decide on the way forward.
Raising a preliminary issue with the procedure on the floor before the House went on recess, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu expressed concern over why a motion for the House to adopt the report of the Privileges Committee on the alleged breaches of Article 97(1) (c) of the Constitution and Order 16(1) of the Standing Orders by three MPs should found space in the Order Paper of that day.
He said once the Privileges Committee had made a determination in respect of the three MPs, the imperatives of Article 97 would automatically be triggered.
“So Mr Speaker, my thinking is that the purpose of a motion is for the House to make a determination and I am thinking that really this is not for the House.
“It is not for the plenary to make a determination; so Mr Speaker, even locating it on the Order Paper is unfortunate and indeed unnecessary as it should have not been listed the Order Paper,” he said.