How Minority ‘defended’ Adwoa Safo in Parliament

Parliament witnessed a rather unusual occurrence in parliament on Thursday, July 28 when members of the house met for the last sitting of the second session of the eighth parliament.

As part of items billed for the day, parliament was supposed to decide on the fate of Dome Kwabenya MP, Sarah Adwoa Safo following her failure to make appearance in parliament for more than 15 days.

Prior to this, the MP had been referred to Parliament’s Privileges Committee, together with two others on April 5, 2022 by the Speaker, Alban Bagbin.

The Speaker’s directive was in line with Article 97 (1) (c) of the 1992 Constitution and Order 17 of the Standing Orders of Parliament which states emphatically that, “A Member shall not absent himself during a meeting for more than fifteen sittings without the permission in writing of the Speaker. Any member infringing this Order shall have his conduct referred to the Privileges Committee.”

The Privileges Committee produced a report after meeting the two other MPs, Ken Agyapong and Henry Quartey and presented it to parliament.

The privileges Committee in their report said they could not reach Adwoa Safo therefore they could not come out with a decision but the majority maintained that whether or not they heard from Adwoa Safo the constitution stated clearly that the seat should be declared vacant as it was automatic for it to be so.

Following this, the house was supposed to move the motion for a debate on the issue as per the provision in the order paper but majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu requested that the Speaker moves a motion for the house to adopt the report from the Privileges Committee on the alleged breach of Article 97 (1) c.

The majority leader argued that the committee had submitted the report to the house and the report had been laid for the information of the house and therefore, the decision had already been determined with respect to the three persons and the imperatives of article 97 would automatically be triggered.

He added that what was captured as a motion in the order paper had issues as the purpose of a motion is for the house to make a determination, one he considers already determined.

But the minority got up to raise concerns about the fact that the majority did not move the motion but has expressed an opinion. Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu challenged the majority on the concerns which had been raised.

How Minority defended Adwoa Safo in Parliament

Haruna Iddrisu argued that the house is governed by the 1992 constitution and the standing orders of the house.

According to him, the house should not set a precedent that a seat can be declared vacant based on recommendations of a Privileges Committee report; a precedent that could likely affect the house subsequently.

Haruna, though emphasized that minority by its stance is in no way endorsing the breaching of the constitution or processes by an MP as has been done by Adwoa Safo, the right procedures must be followed

According to Haruna Iddrisu, if a report has been submitted to parliament, the house must take a decision.

He said parliament is the protector of the fundamental human rights and freedoms and it is for this reason there is a provision on how to remove an elected Member of Parliament.

Haruna also said that it is because the constitution respects the weight of an elected person who wills the power and authority of the sovereign.

He insisted that the minority is not in support of Adwoa Safo but they are only against the procedure the majority is seeking to remove her by declaring the seat vacant.

“Mr. Speaker, you just referred the matter, we will respect your ruling on the matter of the referral to the Privileges Committee but to state that what the Honourable Member for Dome Kwabenya is doing is not right, and is not acceptable, we are only disagreeing on procedure… and we will be guided with your expertise on this,” he stressed.

He said the motion must be subjected to debate and then parliament will approve the recommendation and vote on it.

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