Parliament must purge itself of undignified acts – Martin Amidu

Mr. Amidu

Mr. Amidu

A former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Martin A. B. K. Amidu, has urged Parliament to purge itself of acts that will bring the august House into disrepute.

This, he noted can be done when Parliament adopts transparent, fair and credible constitutional processes in dealing with members whose actions affect the dignity of the House.

“But no institutional reputation can be achieved by covering up or insulting, or citing or threatening to cite whistleblowers or potential whistleblowers for contempt or abuse,” Mr. Amidu gave the admonition in a statement copied to The Ghanaian Times.

The statement followed the visa fraud allegations that have rocked Parliament. Three sitting Members of Parliament (MP)  and a former MP have been banned from entering the United Kingdom (UK) for 10 years for their involvement in the fraud.

The MPs allegedly used an unauthoritised person (a goro boy) and their diplomatic passports to apply for visas for persons who travelled to the UK and did not return as stipulated in their visas.

The four were indicted by the British High Commission in Accra in a confidential letter to the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Ocquaye.

The MPs involved are: Richard Acheapong, MP for Bia East in the Western Region; Joseph Benhazin Dahah, MP for Asutifi North in the Brong-Ahafo Region; Johnson Kwaku Adu, MP for Ahafo Ano South West in the Ashanti Region and George Boakye, former MP for Asunafo South in the Brong-Ahafo Region.

According to Mr. Amidu, attempts by some MPs to defend their four indicted colleagues or side foot this serious crime should not be condoned.

“I have read and followed the publications on the online media since  April 26, 2017 in which some MPs of Ghana’s seventh Parliament have made needless derogatory comments about Jon Benjamin, the High Commissioner of the UK in Accra, for a letter he had addressed to the Speaker of the Ghanaian Parliament: regarding the apparent involvement of three serving MPs and one former MP in visa fraud directly affecting the UK.

The wrong perception has been created by the unwarranted attacks on the person and office of the High Commissioner that by writing that letter he has brought or facilitated the bringing of the reputation of Parliament into disrepute in the eyes of the sovereign people of Ghana.”

 

The former Attorney General said insults coming from MPs from both sides of Parliament gave the impression that Parliament was more hysterical about its reputation being brought into disrepute through the exposure of dishonourable conduct by its members rather than maintaining the honour and dignity.

“The institutional reputation of Parliament is endangered when majority of citizens, civil society organisations, and foreign embassies and other missions in Ghana perceive attempts to maintain Parliament’s integrity as a mere window dressing,” he added.

Mr. Amidu noted the Speaker should have promptly referred the letter to the Ghana Police Service for investigations in accordance with the laws of Ghana; because the Speaker had no jurisdiction over the matter.

“Unfortunately, for three good months the serious indictment on the honour and dignity of Members of Parliament under the fifth and sixth arliaments were kept secret from the sovereign people of Ghana from 20th January 2017 to around 26th April 2017,” he bemoaned.

He added that, “the explanation from the office of the Speaker that the matter would be dealt with in accordance with the law as it affects the integrity and reputation of Parliament” looks belated.

It gives the impression that if the whistleblower had not blown the whistle this matter may as well have been covered up or window dressed.

Mr. Amidu stated that, “it is a shame that while the Speaker appears belatedly from abroad to be urging the use of temperate language in this matter by members of Parliament his First Deputy Speaker already led the pack of some of his members to attack the integrity of the British High Commissioner and his government without any just cause.”

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