Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, has indicated that the refusal of Speaker, Alban Bagbin, to release the Member of Parliament for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu, to the Police is in the right direction.
According to the MP, the constitution does not allow the Speaker to waive the immunity of Mr. Sosu, especially when he is performing his parliamentary duties.
It would be recalled that the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, in a five paged letter described as gross disrespect and a violation of the provisions of the 1992 constitution, the decision by the Police Service to arrest Member of Parliament of Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu for his alleged involvement in some unlawful acts during a demonstration he organised in his constituency.
But speaking on the matter, Mahama Ayariga stated that the Speaker can only hand the MP to the police if the MP voluntarily surrenders himself to the security agency.
“I have taken a position in the past and I have maintained that the immunity to the MP is personal to the MP. The Speaker cannot, in any way, waive the immunity of the MP for the purposes of the police to do anything with the MP. The Speaker cannot. So if the Speaker wrote to the police based on the understanding that constitutionally, he cannot waive the immunity of MPs, it is the MP that will decide voluntarily to surrender himself at any of these times.”
“I am speaking about when you are on your way to or from Parliament. I am taking the position that the Speaker cannot waive the immunity during any of these periods for the purposes of being served a summons or arrested. So if the Speaker’s letter to the police is based on this understanding, then I think the Speaker took the right view of this matter,” he explained on the Big Issue on Citi FM/TV.
The Ghana Police Service has secured a criminal summons for the Member of Parliament for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu, to appear in court on November 8, 2021.
This follows the several failed attempts by the police to arrest the legislator alleged to have breached the law during a recent demonstration by residents of Oyarifa and its environs.
Francis-Xavier after failing to honour police summons accused the security agency of being disingenuous with their account of events.
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Service says it takes strong exceptions to the manner the Ghana Police Service is seeking to apprehend the legislator over alleged wrongdoing.
In a response to the police, the parliamentary service intimated that, although the immunity of MPs is not absolute, the legislator cannot be hounded in a way that is unconstitutional and threatens the country’s democracy.
It also finds it incomprehensible why the police administration has failed to secure a certificate from the Speaker of the House before going ahead to effect the arrest of the MP.
Majority, Minority in disagreement
Both the Majority and Minority in Parliament are divided over this issue.
The Majority Caucus says the speaker appears to be instituting new rules that seem to undermine the rule of law without any prior discussions with the leadership of the house.
They insist the refusal of the Speaker to release the legislator to assist with investigations into alleged offences is of extreme concern.
While the Minority has accused their colleagues on the Majority side of deliberately ignoring the facts surrounding the attempted arrest of the MP.
In a statement, it disagreed with the Majority’s claims, insisting that the Speaker was only trying to ensure that the Police follows standard procedures in inviting the MP for questioning.