Professor Kofi Abotsi, the Dean of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), School of Law, has contended that the law only permits Members of Parliament (MPs) to evade arrest on their way to or out of Parliament.
He rebuffed suggestions that the Police needed exclusive permission from the Speaker of Parliament before any member of the House could be arrested.
“The Police are under no obligation to inform the Speaker before any arrest and his attempt to shield the MP is wrong,” Prof. Abotsi insisted.
The comments come following varied interpretations surrounding attempt by the police to apprehend Francis-Xavier Sosu, the MP for Madina in the Greater Accra Region, over alleged wrongdoing.
This was after he filed formal complaint in Parliament accusing two police commanding officers of contempt of Parliament, the Speaker then referred complaint against the two police personnel to Privileges Committee of Parliament.
According to Prof.Abotsi, capacity of the police to arrest people essentially had no limit because the 1992 Constitution had been clearand limitation was only extended to the President and below the President, the citizenry were subject to arrest by the police.
“The MPs enjoy special period of immunity which extends to them on their way to parliament or way out of parliament and parliamentary work is not obstructed but Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has refused the police’s request to release Mr Sosu, for interrogation, stating he will be engaged in legislative proceedings.
“The Speaker’s approach of using Parliament’s standing orders to protect the MP flies in the face of the law, the Speaker must grant permission since confusion arose from standing orders of parliament, an internal working document.
“It does not trump the constitution, as a matter of operational courtesy, police can comply with but in terms of compliance, MPs cannot be shielded by the Speaker of Parliament,” Prof. Abotsi maintained.
However, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor, the MP for South Dayi in the Volta Region, disagreed with the assertion and suggested the police should issue summons to the Speaker “if they are bent on arresting my colleague legislator”.
“We cannot say MPs cannot be arrested but if they are really minded in prosecuting the issue, then they should issue summons but if they want to proceed with their first procedure of inquiry into issues, they should come through the speaker. –citinewsroom.com