Confusion broke out in Parliament yesterday, over the enskinment of the Member for Parliament for Talensi, Robert Nachinab Doameng Mosore, as the Paramount Chief of Talensi.
Members from the Majority side, called on the First Deputy Speaker, Ebo Barton-Oduro, who was in the chair, to declare the Talensi seat vacant because it was against the Constitution for chiefs to hold positions as members of the House.
However, their counterparts from the Minority side, argued that the Speaker had no constitutional mandate to rule on the matter and urged their colleagues to proceed to the court, if they felt the constitution had been breached.
The Majority Chief Whip, Alhaji Moham-med Mubarak Muntaka, raised the issue on the floor and urged the Talensi MP to step down as a matter of conscience and principle because he was flouting the law.
He quoted Article 276 of the Constitution which states that, “a chief shall not take part in active party politics, and any chief wishing to do so and seeking election to Parliament shall abdicate his stool or skin”.
“Robert Mosore, our colleague, has been enskinned a chief. Morally, as a matter of conscience and principle, he should step down. Our colleague should do the honourable thing. He is in a higher capacity of being a paramount chief. We should take our emotions out and do what is right,” he said.
His comments brought the Deputy Minority Chief Whip, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, to his feet, and called on the Deputy Speaker to ignore the comments made by the Majority Chief Whip because he was not speaking based on facts, but rather, hearsay.
“I am surprised at his submission. The House deals with facts and records. We are not officially aware that any member has been made a chief. We need to avoid situations where we come here and, instead of speaking to facts, make submissions based on hearsays,” he said.
Mr. Awuah said the Minority members were law abiding and would not go against the Constitution, if they were officially informed of Mr. Mosori’s enskinment.
“If indeed it is true that the honourable member of Talensi has been made a Paramount Chief, we will all do what the Constitution says,” he said.
In a quick rebuttal, Alhaji Inusah Abdulai Fuseini (NDC, Tamale Central), said the House did not need to be officially informed because the matter was of public knowledge.
He said the Deputy Speaker could take a decision because the enskinment of the MP was already in the public domain and appealed to the Speaker to call for an investigation into the matter for the right thing to be done.
The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu (NDC- Tamale South), said Members of Parliament, before assuming office, swear to uphold the Constitution and entreated his colleagues from the Minority side to be the last group of people to breach the Constitution since they were lawmakers.
“It is prudent that leadership investigates and informs the House on the status of the Member for Talensi. It is a fact, and already in the public domain that the Talensi MP has been enskined a chief. The leadership can ascertain the facts to see whether the Talensi MP qualifies to still hold himself as a member of this House,” he said.
Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh (NPP, Manhyia South), took a swipe at his colleagues for calling on the Talensi MP to step down, saying, “what they are doing is only creating anarchy and chaos in this House”.
He said for a person to be considered a chief, the National House of Chiefs needed to gazette it before that person would be legally recognised as a chief.
Dr. Prempeh added that the House needed to be officially informed and urged the members from the Majority side to refrain from making comments in the House based on hearsays.
“Mr. Speaker, let them not deceive you into making wrong pronouncement on this issue because they are not speaking to the facts. They have no evidence to support their claim. The rules are clear on this,” he said.
Papa Owusu Ankomah (NPP-Sekondi), told the House that if the Constitution had been breached by any member, it was not for the Speaker to rule on the matter.
He explained that the issue was constitutional and not a matter that needed to be raised on the floor for the Speaker to give a ruling.
“It is not the business of the House to go about looking for evidence to ascertain a fact. If any member believes that there are facts that disqualify anyone from becoming a member of the House, the person can take the matter to the Supreme Court,” he said.
The Deputy Speaker, Mr. Barton-Oduro, said “if it is constitutional, the opening is there. Aside that, Order 51 which deals with the number of days a member is permitted to absent him or herself from the House should be applicable,” and urged the MPs to put the matter to rest.
The Majority Chief Whip rose on his feet again and swore to gather the facts, and get a concerned citizen to get the case to the Supreme Court.
“They should not be afraid of by-elections. They should not attempt to drag this issue because it will never happen,” he said. The Deputy Minority Chief Whip, responded to Alhaji Muntaka’s comments saying, “we are not afraid of the by-elections. We are even ready for the main election and we will beat them to it. The issue is of national importance”.
“We will not go against the provisions of the Constitution. We want the facts to be published. If today, it is true, we will do what the Constitution says. But until that is done, we will not act based on hearsay,” he added.
By Yaw Kyei