The Speaker of Parliament Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, has said the House will not adjourn sine die for the Christmas break, until all businesses before it are concluded.
The House was scheduled to adjourn for the Christmas break on Saturday December 21, 2019 but would have to stay a little longer to consider the nomination of Justice Anin Yeboah as the Chief Justice of the Republic whose nomination was announced on Thursday.
Major businesses currently before the House before the announcement of the Chief Justice nominee include the approval of budget estimates for the various ministries, departments and agencies and the passage of the Appropriation Act which would give the executive the authority to spend beyond December 31, 2019.
At sitting on Friday, the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, pushed that the House adjourned on the scheduled day and return on either January 8 or 9, 2020, in an emergency session to consider the Chief Justice nominee, a suggestion Speaker Oquaye declined.
Speaking exclusively with the Ghanaian Times in his office, Speaker Mike Oquaye said reconvening in an emergency session was not an option on the table.
“Parliament will continue to do business until every business we have is finished, particularly the vetting of the Chief Justice nominee of the Republic which is a very important national exercise with constitutional implications,” he told the Ghanaian Times.
He said “so I would not leave that exercise and go on holidays only to recall members to sit in an emergency session. Until we finish, we are not rising.”
According to Prof. Oquaye, recalling Parliament “is expensive and that the country must not engage in such wasteful expenditure”.
He said in the past, Parliament has been recalled to undertake other equally important businesses even at midnight like swearing in the Speaker as the acting president in order to avoid a power vacuum.
“This [vacuum at the leadership of the judiciary] is exactly what we don’t want. So it is a very important exercise within the jurisdiction of Parliament and we must consider it [before we go on break] even if it means sitting on Christmas Day”, Prof. Oquaye said.
He directed the leaders of the Majority and Minority to work hard and finish the business of the House, before adjournment.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, communicating his nomination of Justice Anin Yeboah as the Chief Justice, urged Parliament to expedite the process to avoid a vacuum at the Bench.
“In order to avoid a vacuum in the office of the Chief Justice following [the] retirement [of Justice Sophia Akuffo], I decided to initiate the processes for the appointment of her successor,” President Akufo-Addo said, in his letter to the Speaker.
The Speaker under Order 42 has the power to suspend, adjourn or recall Parliament from recess.
Clause two of the Order reads that “Mr Speaker shall be responsible after consultation with the House, for fixing the time when sitting of the House should be adjourned sine die or to a particular day, or to an hour or part of the same day.”
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI