Minority demands withdrawal of Special Prosecutor Bill

Mr Haruna Iddrisu,Minority Leader.

Mr Haruna Iddrisu,Minority Leader.

The minority in Parliament is demanding that the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017, is withdrawn and re-laid in line with constitutional provisions.

According to the Minority, processes leading to the presentation of the bill last Tuesday, did not meet minimum constitutional and legislative requirements and should not be entertained by the House.

The caucus, on that Tuesday, objected to the laying of the bill, arguing that their checks, prior to that exercise, indicated that the bill was not gazetted as required by Article 106 (2b) of the 1992 Constitution which states that bills due for Parliament be gazetted at least 14 days before they were introduced to the House.

Leading their demand for the withdrawal of the bill, which was laid under a certificate of urgency, Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader, said further checks indicated that the bill was gazetted on July 14 and introduced to the House on July 18.

This, he said, fell short of the 14-day period specified by the constitution.

The demand of the minority followed the recommendations of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that the bill travels the full haul of parliamentary proceedings.
“My view is that, we cannot even proceed as the chairman (of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs) has recommended. The best will be for the Attorney General to withdraw and relay this particular bill,” Haruna Iddrisu stated.

Arguing under Article 106 (2b) which demanded that all bills were published in the gazette at least 14 days before it was introduced to House, Haruna Iddrisu said gazetting the bill on the 14 and introducing same four days later was a violation of the Constitution and should not be countenanced.

“Mr Speaker, I strongly submit that this bill is withdrawn by the Attorney General and re-laid. If the thinking was that you wanted this bill to be considered as an urgent bill, it ought not to be gazetted,” the Tamale South MP added.

He said though the constitution says that Parliament is a master of its own procedure,” not procedures so determined by the Constitution and therefore we should avoid conduct and act that will allow us to pass a bill that will be questioned tomorrow for not meeting minimum constitutional principle and requirement.”

The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, objecting to his opposition colleague’s argument wondered why the u-turn, because the minority had earlier claimed that the bill had not been gazetted.

To Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu the discrepancy accompanying the Minority’s argument since the bill was introduced was worrying and wants them (Minority) to take a principled position on the bill and kicked against the idea for it to be withdrawn and re-laid.

“Mr Speaker, the 14 days would expire in the fullness of time, the bill will mature and be laid properly. It is as simple as that,” the Suame MP stressed.

Ruling on the matter, the Speaker, Professor Mike Oquaye said the argument of whether or not the bill be withdrawn and re-laid does not come in since the committee had recommended the bill went through a normal course to get approved.

“All other matters are consequential,” Speaker Oquaye stated and shot down the demand of the Minority.

By Julius Yao Petetsi

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