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Parliament’s Privileges Committee to hear absentee MPs case behind closed doors

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A member of the Privileges Committee of Parliament, Kweku Ricketts Hagan, said the media would not be allowed to cover the hearings of three MPs who were referred to the Committee for being away from home beyond the constitutionally required.

The three MPs, Henry Quartey of Ayawaso Central, Sarah Adwoa Safo of Dome Kwabenya and Kennedy Agyapong of Assin Central will face the Committee from today May 26.

Explaining why the media were banned from covering the proceedings, he said “the nature of the evidence, as we have been led to believe, may be medical…”

“And it is on this basis that [Privileges] The committee came to the conclusion that it would be preferable for us to give people the opportunity to come and to be able to come and be able to discuss with us, charged with this responsibility on the reasons or the evidence.

In an interview with Citi FM, the Cape Coast legislator said that when the Committee has completed its work, a report will be released which will explain whatever decision the Committee has made.

“Of course when we have finished our work we will write a report and seeing the report it will establish the reason why we recommended that an MP has a legitimate reason to remain in Parliament or not and I think that will become a public information,” he said.

“I tell you the decision of the committee is that, we did not think it would be appropriate to discuss what are likely to be health issues, because we know that at least two of them or all three have been dealing with certain medical issues and we felt it would not be appropriate,” Hagan added.

In an earlier interview with Parker Wilson of JoyNews, the NDC MP noted that the hearing will begin today with Henry Quartey.

The others should follow suit in the following days.

“The 27and which is a Friday is Adwoa Safo, the 31stst who is next Tuesday will be Kennedy Agyapong,” he told the Joy News parliamentary correspondent.

The MP for Cape Coast South noted that apart from the MP for Assin North, who asked to be summoned on May 31 as he would be going for a medical, the other two MPs have so far not announces their intention to be absent.

“As far as I was concerned, I wasn’t told by the clerk that they said they couldn’t come or anything, so I guess if they got the invite then we we expect to see them. Only Hon. Kennedy Agyapong is the one who I know asked for the permission which myself and the president discussed and we obliged that he could have it,” he said.

He noted that any MP who does not appear before the Committee will be cited for contempt of the House.

“Well, that’s a contempt of the House, right now. If you do that, you complicate your situation even more, because we are here under an obligation to obey the law and the Constitution of this country and that an MP should be better informed and it is a very serious matter related to your presence here in the House or not, ”he noted.

Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin referred the three MPs to the Privileges Committee in April for breaching Parliament’s 15-day absence rule.

According to the President, the three lawmakers violated the 15-day absence rule, hence his decision to refer them to the Committee of Privileges for the necessary measures to be taken.

Delivering his decision on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday, Mr. Alban Bagbin explained that, based on the relevant provisions of the 1992 Constitution and Standing Orders of Parliament, the NPP’s appointed legislators are guilty of the absenteeism threshold for deputies.

“I have therefore come to the compelling conclusion that a Member who absents himself from Parliament for 16 sitting days at a particular meeting, without the written permission of the Speaker, falls squarely within the scope of Article 97, Clause 1(c) of the 1992 Constitution and Rule 16(1) of the Standing Orders of Parliament,” he said.

Bagbin’s referral of MPs to the Privileges Committee follows a petition by former Kumbungu MP Ras Mubarak.

Ras Mubarak, in his petition to the president, said the conduct of the three MPs demands immediate action as it violates constitutional provisions and the rules of procedure of parliament.

“It has come to my knowledge from the Hansard of Parliament and from newspaper and radio reports that four Members have all been absent from Parliament for more than fifteen sittings of a meeting of Parliament without the written permission of the Speaker.”

“In light of this reported violation of constitutional provision, I respectfully request your high office to direct that their conduct be referred to the Committee on Privileges for review and necessary action,” portions of the petition read.

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