The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin has outlined processes by which Members of Parliament (MPs) who absent themselves from the House during the days stipulated in the Standing Orders can be dealt with.
He affirmed that political parties did not have the power to remove any MP no matter the reasons they may have against the lawmaker.
Mr Bagbin explained that it was only the Speaker who could take that decision and specifically informed the New Patriotic Party (NPP) they did not have the power to remove Sarah Adwoa Safo, the MP for Dome-Kwabenya in the Greater Accra Region from the House.
“If a lawmaker acts in ways that can lead to his or her removal, the Privileges Committee of Parliament will invite the person and listen to explanations for the conduct and if the committee finds the action justifiable, then they will allow the person(s) to go unpunished but if otherwise, they will refer the issue to the House for a debate on it.
“After the debate, the Speaker will then decide whether or not the lawmaker should be expelled and the term used in the 1992 Constitution is vacation of the position of Member of Parliament andcircumstances are clear, when an MP is absent for 15 sittings of Parliament, in a meeting, and a meeting is three months, it is not a session which is 12 months.
“Those are the words of the Constitution, the genesis of the provision is from the days of Dr Kwame Nkrumah where RB Okyere, who was one of the opposition members had to run to Cote D’Ivoire and whiles even in Cote d’Ivoire, he was sending leave of absence which were always automatically approved and he was to be there for over two years enjoying all his conditions of service and claiming to be attending medical treatment.
“The gentlemen who pleaded guilty in the 1963 treason trial is the one I am referring to, that is where the genesis started, that time it was 20 days, now it is 15 days, in some parliaments, it is 90 days some even more.
“Our Constitution did not talk about it being consecutive but I have been getting reports from civil society calculating it on session and just adding your days of absence, you should have vacated your seat but when I read a lot of cases in other jurisdictions they indicate 15 consecutive sitting days in a meeting,” Mr Bagbinasserted.
According to him, that would be circumstances under which the Speaker would be called upon to refer the issue to the committee which would invite the member to come and explain why his or her absence was without permission from the Speaker saying “those are the processes we go through but we have not gotten there yet but there is a call for her removal”. -3news.com