The controversy surrounding the appointment of Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister, Ms. Afisah Otiko Djaba might not settle as yet as two sitting opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) have filed a suit at the Supreme Court against her appointment.
The plaintiffs, Kwabena Mintah Akandor, MP for Guaboso Constituency and Ernest Henry Norgbey, MP for Ashaiman Constituency, have aseked of the Supreme Court to restrain Ms. Otiko, from conducting herself as a minister, until the final determination of the case.
They are also praying the Court for a true and proper interpretation of Article 94(2g) of the 1992 Constitution together with the National Service Act, Act 246.
Joined to the suit are, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Ms. Gloria Akufo and Ms. Afisah Otiko Djaba, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection.
Their contentions were that as legislators, their interest should be to protect the laws instead of breaking them.
It is, their case that, breaking the constitutional clause and statutes could be suicidal and amounted to setting a bad precedent.
The plaintiffs averred that there are schools that depended on National Service personnel and that appointing somebody who has forfeited to undertake the mandatory service would discourage young people to honour their national service obligations.
Ms. Djaba’s appointment was approved by Parliament on Tuesday, following a vote in accordance with Standing Order 172(5) of the House with the Majority voting massively to endorse her candidature.
Standing Order 172(5) states that: “Each member shall be provided with a sheet of paper on which appears the names of all candidates for approval or rejection. Against the name of each candidate shall be two columns, one for AYES indicating approval and the other for NOES indicating rejection.
A candidate who fails to secure fifty per cent of the votes cast is rejected, clause eight of the Order adds.
Though the Minority abstained from the vote, the Majority voted massively to endorse the nomination of Ms. Djaba who doubles as the NPP’s National Women Organiser with 152 votes of the 169 Majority members in House. The Minority recorded zero votes.
The voting exercise, the first in the Seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic, was preceded by heated legal argument between the Majority Leader, Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu and his counterpart on the Minority side, Haruna Iddrisu.
Ms. Djaba’s approval was put on hold last Friday following a disagreement between the minority and the majority caucuses of Parliament over her failure to honour her national service obligations.
According to the Minority, her failure to do her national service was a violation of the National Service Act 246 which makes national service mandatory for every Ghanaian above eighteen years.
The Minority was of the conviction that approving the minister-designate could be a disincentive to yet-to-serve Ghanaians.
But the Majority contended that once Ms. Djaba qualified to be a Member of Parliament, her inability to undertake national service could not be a blockaded.
Espousing his legal positions before the voting, Haruna Iddrisu, the Tamale South MP, said the majority side of the house was violating the constitution because the National Service Act, is consistent with the 1992 Constitution and cannot be brushed aside.
But the Majority Leader said the position of the Minority was untenable.
He said the nominee must be given the nod because she has written to the National Service Board, for a waiver but was unable to prove that to the Minority.
Announcing the results of the secret voting, the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Ocquaye, said by virtue of the votes, Ms. Djaba has been dully approved by the House.
By Malik Sullemana