Embattled Bawku Central MP has been urged to purge himself of criminal allegation rather than avoiding the court.
A former Clerk of Parliament, Samuel Ntim Darkwa said “I am afraid if a Member of Parliament is accused of a criminal offence, this does not give him license to say he will not appear in court because he is privileged to do that.”
According to him, it is in Mahama Ayariga’s interest to clear himself of corruption allegations because “if you are indicted in court, it undermines your own integrity and your effectiveness is reduced.”
Mr. Darkwa adds that “for a Member of Parliament you should not be in a position where you are accused of moral turpitude or corruption.”
Mahama Ayariga is facing criminal prosecution following an allegation of tax evasion made against him by the Office of the Special Prosecutor.
He initially declined court invitations asserting his immunity as a parliamentarian.
As a result, Ayariga was not in court when his case was called on Tuesday morning.
But the veteran Parliamentary scholar has said the court should not be chasing the MP to clear his name.
Instead, the earliest opportunity should be given to the embattled MP “go to court to establish his innocence or otherwise.
According to Mr. Darkwa, the constitution debars any criminal from seeking office as a parliamentarian.
“You cannot seek the membership of parliament if you are a criminal. And therefore if you are accused of being a criminal you should quickly go and establish your innocence,” he argued.
Meanwhile, an earlier decision by Mr Ayariga not to honour the High Court’s invitation incensed Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe, the presiding judge compelling her to order lawyers of the MP to produce him not later than 1 pm on Tuesday.
Even though the MP met the court’s deadline, he did so after seeking the intervention of the speaker of Parliament.
The ruling of the Speaker which asserted the immunity of the Bawku Central MP has led to what many has described as a clash between the Legislature and Judiciary.
But Samuel Ntim Darkwa said the controversy was needless. It could have been avoided if the Speaker was approached on the subject.
“If the Speaker is informed that a member is wanted for such an offence, normally I think the speaker will let him go,” he added
This will not be the first time this has happened, Mr. Darkwah said, referencing a case involving a former Member of Parliament for Keta, Dan Abodakpi who was accused of financial malfeasance.
He attended all court sittings once he became a person of interest to the court, he added
Mr. Darkwah was a party to the body that fashioned out Parliamentary privileges including immunities.
Explaining the purpose of parliamentary immunity, he said such clauses were made in the interest of the House.
Parliament requires the presence of members to form a quorum, without which the business of parliament cannot go on, he argued.
Again at “the completion of debates, the speaker cannot take a decision until they have about half of the members present and voting.