Avid constitutional law adherent, Professor Kwaku Asare, has alluded that a Member of Parliament’s (MP’s) privileges must not be subject to any court action for the work he does as an MP.
He explained that nothing he
said in parliament, however outrageous, can be the subject of a legal suit, and
such a suit “directly” targets his work as an MP, however, if he were to set
another man’s house on fire, or rape a woman, or evade tax as alleged, there
can be no talk of his immunity since charges do not directly target his
According to him, the
Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, “got it wrong” in his letter
asserting privileges of Mahama Ayariga, Bawku Central MP, who is before Justice
Afia Asare-Botwe for tax evasion, because he wanted scheduling of Mr Ayariga’s
trial to be done without conflicting his parliamentary duties.
Prof. Asare pointed to several provisions in the 1992 Constitution, Articles 117, 118, 122, which bordered on privileges and contempt of parliament, to buttress his case and insisted that the Speaker “completely misunderstood” the privileges and listed three Articles the Speaker used.
“The laws are
completely misunderstood including Articles 115, and 119 which the Speaker did
not refer to directly in his letter, for Mr Ayariga to seek refuge in immunity
when entangled in criminal process betrays lack of understanding of country’s
laws and even the Speaker’s letter to the judge could be construed as contempt
“This is because nobody can direct a judge in conduct of their work, as the principle of separation of powers proscribes in the 1992 constitution, as MPs like to say Parliament is a master of its own rules, they have met a judge and a court that is also a master of their own course.
“The judge will have none of that and have her way in getting beleaguered MP to abandon chamber of parliament and head to court to beat the deadline on the hearing, the Speaker’s ruling on Article 118, does not apply to Mr Ayariga, since the judge stressed he is an accused and not a witness before the court.”