The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has said attempts by the police to arrest the Member of Parliament for Madina, Francis-Xavier Kojo Sosu, and the fashion in which same was done, “offend not just the letter but the very spirit that underpins our 1992 Constitution”.
He acknowledged that though MPs are not above the law, due process must be followed to investigate or arrest any of them, adding that the attempted arrest of the first term MP was a “gross disrespect” to not only Mr Sosu but the entire legislature.
In a statement issued in Accra yesterday and signed by the Deputy Clerk to Parliament, Eric Owusu Mensah, Mr Bagbin could not fathom why despite the pendency of the contempt complaint filed by Mr Sosu and the referral to the Committee of Privileges, which was communicated to the police, it attempted to arrest the MP at church last Sunday.
“This is a clear violation of the provisions of the 1992 Constitution and gross disrespect to the Speaker and Parliament,” the statement said.
According to the Speaker, the Police Service is “a vassal of the Constitution and a statute passed by Parliament, formed part of the Public Services of Ghana and must not uphold itself to be above the law”.
The police service and other security agencies, the Speaker said, have investigated and continue to investigate MPs from both sides, and in all instances, the Office of the Speaker has engaged and facilitated the work of the police service.
According to the statement, the privileges and immunities of Parliament, the Speaker, Members, and the Clerk, exist to guarantee the independence of the House and ensure that the legislature would be able to undertake its constitutional duties without unnecessary encumbrances and constraints.
“This is to create a conducive political polity to enable the legislature respond appropriately and timeously to the needs and aspirations of the people.”
These privileges are part of rules and systems intended to strengthen Parliament to effectively and efficiently deliver on its mandate, the statement said, adding that the privileges and immunities do not exist only for the protection of Members but for the protection of the House as one of the cardinal bastions of democracy.
“These recent events should not be understood as an attack on a single MP but an attack on Parliament as an institution and the democracy of Ghana as a whole.
“Parliaments are the bedrock of any strong and vibrant democracy; hence, all efforts must be made to protect our Parliament. There is enough evidence that an effective and strong Parliament deepens democracy and the reverse that, an ineffective and weak Parliament portends doom for any democracy and the rule of law,” the statement noted.
Considering the recent happenings as an attempt by some persons in the security services to “change the nature of Parliamentary Business and cow MPs and the House into subservience”, Mr Bagbin said. He added that; “this potentially has a long term effect on our democracy”.
He has thus reiterated his resolve to lead Members and Officers of Parliament in the collective determination to “defend the constitution and its provisions as is a constitutional duty”.
In as much as the police service requires the support of everyone to conduct their affairs provided same is done within the confines of the 1992 Constitution, the Speaker said the service should not be allowed to use threats of administrative sanctions to make ineffective the Parliamentary Protection Unit by interdicting officers.”