Former MP for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak, has 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.
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 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 that “your office (Speaker Bagbin) to direct for their conduct to be referred to the Privileges Committee for consideration and necessary action.”
In his petition, the former Kumbungu MP explained that the Standing Orders of Parliament is not clear as to who can or should raise the matter of absenteeism on the floor of the House for a debate and or referral by the Speaker to the Committee on Privileges.
Therefore, his action to petition the Speaker to address the subject that “threatens our democracy.”
“According to the Afrobarometer data, trust in Parliament has fallen by 12% between 2002 and 2019. The report ranked Parliament as the third corrupt institution in our country – just behind the Police and Judges,” he added.
He further cited an instance where the MP for Lower West Akyem during the 7th Parliament was allowed to go scot-free despite being absent for more than 15 sittings of several meetings of Parliament without the permission of the Speaker in writing, to demand immediate actions.
Mr Ras Mubarak has urged that Members of Parliament support the call for immediate actions against their colleagues who have absented themselves without due process.
“I humbly submit that democracy can only work if Parliament puts the common good ahead of the party and personal interest. At a time of seeming collapse of trust in politics and Parliament as an institution, it is my fervent prayer that the House would rise to the occasion and be UNITED on this matter, so as to uphold our constitution and also win back waned public confidence,” he concluded.
Adwoa Safo’s absence in Parliament
The absence of the Dome Kwabenya MP has gained the most attention. This is because Miss Adwoa Safo was last seen in Parliament in December 2021, when she appeared in the House to dismiss claims by the Minority Group that she was impersonated.
Her absence has infuriated her colleagues on the Majority side who have accused her of blackmailing government with a list of demands, including the Deputy Majority Leader post.
According to JoyNews’ Presidential correspondent, Elton John Brobbey, the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, was at a point denied access to the Member of Parliament for Dome-Kwabenya, Sarah Adwoa Safo’s residence.
During a round table discussion on JoyNews’ State of Play on Thursday, he stated that Madam Osei-Opare was tasked to go look for the MP when her absence from Parliament became consistent.
However, when she arrived at her residence, “the Chief of Staff did not even have access to the estate’s compound.” “The security guys told her that until they get express instruction from the occupant who she was going to visit they will not allow her in,” he added.
Further investigations have revealed that the MP has not been granted permission to be absent.
Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Bagbin, has admitted he has not permitted Sarah Adwoa Safo to be absent on health grounds.
“It’s important I diffuse some fake news, which is being circulated that I granted an interview to say that Adwoa Safo received permission from me to absent herself from Parliament on health grounds. I want it to be known by all; that I have not granted any such interview anywhere. I’ve not said anything like that anywhere.
“And the votes and proceedings of the House are so loud that if she’s absent without permission for all those days, that’s on the votes and proceedings of the House.
“It’s not the Speaker who determines who’s present and who’s absent. No. The votes and proceedings will capture those who’re present, those who’re absent and those who’re absent with permission. And so please; I’ve received a lot of calls from a number of media men on that issue.
“And that’s why I don’t want to delay in letting the world know that I have not said any such thing anywhere,” the Speaker said.
Since then, there has been pressure on the Speaker of Parliament to trigger the constitutional process to remove the Dome Kwabenya MP from the House.
But the MP for Ada, Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe-Ghansah, has opposed calls for Miss Sarah Adwoa Safo to be dismissed from Parliament.
The Ada MP believes women regardless of their age need a lot of pampering, hence, she [Adwoa Safo] needs not to be treated unfairly.
“Especially as a woman, I will not support that call because if a woman puts to birth and she is having issues and needs to settle and through that, they will take her from parliament, then they should rather bring a gadget that will monitor them [women] so that when you menstruate then they take them off because after menstruation we give birth.
“And if you give birth and you are not protected, then there is no need you stay in the chamber so they should please stop it. “All women are the same and if you are to get them and don’t pamper them, you will, by all means, crash with them,” she said in an interview with Accra-based TV3.
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