The Member of Parliament (MP) for the Dome-Kwabenya constituency, Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo, yesterday appeared before Parliament for the first time in nearly one year.
The MP and former Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection was last seen in the House during the approval of the 2022 budget statement and economic policy of government in December 2021.
In a red attire and a brown inner tube to march, the embattled majority caucus lawmaker took her seat right behind the front bench before the House commenced sitting.
Wearing a blond hair, Ms Safo was seen flipping through the pages of the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday’s sitting and the Order Paper for yesterday to abreast herself with developments in the House.
Ms Safo, a former Deputy Majority Leader was mobbed by members on the opposite of the aisle, especially the female lawmakers.
Notable among those who warmly welcomed her back to the House were Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, the Minority Chief Whip and MP for Asawase.
Alhaji Muntaka has been a strong advocate against the declaration of her seat vacant for having absented herself for more than fifteen sittings during the first meeting of the second session of this Parliament, the eighth of the republic.
Speaking with the press, Ms Safo said she was encouraged by the reception from her colleagues and said she was back to continue her duties as a lawmaker with hopes that subsequent weeks would be good. “It feels good to be back,” she declared.
For not being able to offer any explanation to the Privileges Committee why she has been absent after the Speaker, Mr Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, referred three of them to the Committee, the Majority wanted her seat to be declared vacant for fresh polls in her constituency.
The Majority have argued that the determination of whether or not her seat should be declared vacant was the mandate of the Privileges Committee, a position the Speaker disagrees with.
According to the Speaker, the report of the Committee on Privileges, like all other committees of the House, should be subjected to the scrutiny of the plenary.
“The Committee of Privileges is a Committee of Parliament constituted pursuant to Article 103 of the Constitution. As a Committee of Parliament, the way in which the Committee conducts its business is regulated by the Standing Orders of the House.
Our orders specifically require that the recommendations of a committee must be subject to the consideration of the House and that plenary plays an important role in choosing to adopt or reject the recommendations.”
“The rationale for this structure is that committees of Parliament are
microcosms and extension of the House as a whole; they are handmaidens whose core constitutional function is to assist Parliament,” Mr Bagbin ruled.
The motion on whether or not her seat, alongside those of Ayawaso Central and Assin Central Members, Henry Quartey and Ken Agyapong respectively is expected to be tabled later this year for a vote.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI