Former Ranking Member on Parliament’s Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Inusah Fuseini, says Parliament’s Privileges Committee erred by not presenting a conclusive determination to the Speaker of Parliament.
He was speaking concerning the report presented to Speaker, Alban Bagbin, on the status of the Dome Kwabenya Member of Parliament, Sarah Adwoa Safo’s seat in the house.
According to him, the Committee had a duty to make a conclusive determination to the Speaker as to whether or not the MP would have to vacate her seat.
“The Chairman of the Privileges Committee, when he considered the conduct of a Member of Parliament in regards to Article 97 1(c) and makes a determination, that determination will be in the report that they have produced and recommend to the Speaker if the determination is to the effect that seat be declared vacant.
“They have to make that determination of whether or not that explanation was reasonable. And if the explanation was not reasonable, it is their determination, it’s a duty imposed on them by Article 97 1(c), it’s a duty. And if they make that determination, they then recommend to the Speaker to declare the seat vacant.
“Mind you, the Speaker is not a Member of Parliament; he presides over deliberations in Parliament. And so when the Committee makes that determination, the Speaker is enjoined to tell the Members of Parliament the determination of Committee and the recommendation to him to declare it vacant and what he intends to do,” he said on JoyNews’ PM Express.
He explained that the explanation being used to justify the reason why the Committee failed to come to a conclusive determination on the subject is at best ridiculous.
He said the refusal of Sarah Adwoa Safo to present herself before the Committee should not have prevented the Committee from making a determination on her case, as she was afforded the opportunity to do so and refused.
“That is the problem. So the Committee refused, neglected or failed to arrive at a decision. And I heard the question you asked the Member of Parliament , the rules of natural justice and it is contained in Article 97 1(c).
“The reasonable explanation required of the defaulting Member of Parliament is to satisfy the audi alteram partem rule of natural justice – hear the other side. But that does not mean that the balance of power shifts from the Committee to the defaulting party.
“If the Committee takes all reasonable steps to make sure that the defaulting has notice of the sittings and the invitation and refuses, neglects or fails to appear you have satisfied the audi alteram partem rule.
“So I’m surprised that in this particular case Parliament decided that the defaulting party should have authority, should hold the sway, should keep them from performing their duty, should keep them from meeting the mandatory requirements of Article 97 1(c) of making a determination,” he said.
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