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Chaos in parliament; We’ll fight for MPs’ rights, privileges – Sam George

The Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram says the Minority will fight ensure every MP is accorded the deserved rights and privileges. The Minority, he said, will not be cowed by anyone.

Speaking after a scuffle ensued in Parliament Thursday after the release of the Joe Ghartey report on a bribery allegation by Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga, he claimed the Majority members accosted some Minority MPs after sitting was adjourned.

Mr Ayariga was found guilty of contempt of Parliament by the Joe Ghartey Committee.

Joe Ghartey, Chair of the committee constituted to investigate the allegations stated on the floor of Parliament that Ayariga failed to adduce any evidence to substantiate his allegations against members of the Appointments Committee of Parliament.

He said everything Ayariga said was nothing more than rumours, adding a “multiplicity of rumours does not constitute a fact.”

The Joe Ghartey committee was constituted after the allegations by the Bawku Central MP Mahama Ayariga that the Chairman of the Appointment Committee Joe Osei Owusu had given GH3,000 each to minority members of the committee through the Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, to approve the Energy Minister-designate at the time.

Ayariga had told an Accra-based radio Station that the money was given to the Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mubarak for onward distribution to the members of the Minority.

A committee was set up to investigate the matter. The five-member committee chaired by Joe Ghartey has other members including Ben Abdallah Banda Offinso South MP, Ama Pomaa Boateng, Juaben MP, Benson Tongo Baba Talensi MP, and Magnus Kofi Amoatey, Yilo Krobo MP.

Joe Ghartey said the most crucial element in any allegations is evidence but there was none in Ayariga’s testimony even though there has been a forest of rumours on the matter.

He said no amount of rumours can turn an issue into a fact and chided Mahama Ayariga for proceeding to the press to comment on rumours.

The Committee, he reiterated found Ayariga guilty of contempt of Parliament and read possible sanctions which may include an impeachment from Parliament.

He, however, said the committee’s recommendation was that Mr. Ayariga renders an unqualified apology to Parliament.

The Speaker of Parliament Prof Mike Ocquaye, therefore, asked the member to apologise but Mahama Ayariga had concerns.

He said under the Standing Orders of Parliament based on which the Joe Ghartey Committee was formed, he did not think that the committee had the powers to make findings of contempt against him.

“Mr Speaker if you say I should apologise, I apologise,” he said heatedly.

The Ningo MP said after the report was presented, they expected that the Speaker of parliament to call the subject of the report to make his comment adding although Mr Ayariga had his hands up, he did not catch the eye of the Speaker.

“Subsequent to that he was given the opportunity to rise and make his point where he drew the Speaker’s attention to order 191 of our Standing Order,” he said

Order 191 of the Standing Orders of Parliament gives the House the power to appoint a special or ad-hoc committee to investigate any matter of public importance.

He said this does not clothe the Joe Ghartey Committee with the powers to make a finding of contempt which is the preserve of the Privileges Committee.

“To pass judgement of contempt against Ayariga is a lame conclusion to arrive at and he has raised that question whether the Committee has the powers to under order 191.”

Sam George believes that is a matter that the Speaker of Parliament has to consider adding “secondly he also raised the issue with the burden of proof, the Committee used the criminal standard. However, in the conduct of their investigation, they did not engage or use the criminal standard.”

Sam George said the mixture of two systems shows that the Bawku MP has a legitimate point.

“Members of the other side passed very unnecessary comments and made very unparliamentary comments. Indeed, Minister for Education insulted Alhassan Suhuyini and it raised tensions in the House.

According to him, after the Speaker left the House, the members of the Majority rose and came over to the Minority side and started accosting them.

He believes some Majority members see themselves as more important than others even though all MPs represent their constituents in the House.

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