Former MP for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak has criticised efforts by some Members of Parliament to hinder the Speaker, Alban Bagbin, from considering his petition against absentees.
Speaking on JoyNews’ Top Story on Wednesday, he said “incidences like this erodes confidence in Parliament as an institution.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Ras Mubarak petitioned the Office of the Speaker of Parliament to enforce Article 97(1) of the Constitution and Standing Order 16(1) to address the issue of absenteeism amongst Members of Parliament.
According to him, the absence of four MPs for more than 15 sittings in the House without permission from Alban Bagbin, as captured in the Hansard and media outlets, constitutes a breach of the 1992 Constitution.
The four are; Dome-Kwabenya MP, Sarah Adwoa Safo; Ayawaso Central MP, Henry Quartey; Ebenezer Kojo Kum, MP for Ahanta West; and Ken Ohene Agyapong, MP for Assin Central.
In view of this reported breach of the constitutional provision, Mr Mubarak requested Speaker Bagbin, “to direct for their conduct to be referred to the Privileges Committee for consideration and necessary action.”
But the Dormaa East MP, Paul Apraku Twum-Barimah, had a different take on the matter.
Commenting on the issue, he urged Speaker Alban Bagbin to approach the issue of absenteeism in Parliament with diligence.
According to him, the Speaker must not hasten to react to the petition filed.
He insisted that the Speaker must first establish the rationale behind the alleged absence of the legislators in question.
Mr. Twum-Barimah further argued that it is premature to state that his colleagues being accused of absenteeism have breached the Constitution and Standing Orders of the House as alleged by the petitioner, Mr. Ras Mubarak.
“You cannot be quick to say they are breaching the law. We must establish the fundamental principle before we say that. So you cannot at this juncture say whatever my colleague, who is from the outside is trying to tell us, is accurate,” he said.
The Tamale Central MP, Murtala Mohammed Ibrahim also said the Speaker should first determine the merit of Ras Mubarak’s petition before referring the matter to the Privileges Committee.
In response, Mr. Mubarak stated that the MPs’ stance on the petition “is the reason why there is a collapse of trust” in Parliament.
“We have a situation where four Members of Parliament evidently may have violated the provisions of the Constitution and you have elected representatives, for partisan reasons, claiming that the Speaker should not entertain the petition,” he said.
He added that they are the reason “the Afrobarometer survey ranked Parliament as one of the third most corrupt institutions after the Police and Judiciary.”
According to him, the MPs should be minded in helping to clean the sunken reputation and restore the confidence in Parliament as an institution.
“We can’t have an institution that makes laws and we have Members of Parliament refusing to adhere to our Constitution. I mean if the MPs are not upholding the law, do we expect the fed-up man or woman on the streets to uphold the law?” he quizzed.
Meanwhile, an Accounting professor, Kwaku Asare, has charged the leadership of Parliament to declare seats of Members of Parliament who have been absent for more than 15 days, vacant.
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