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02 August 2017

Breaking: NDC MPs walk out of Parliament over Ameri deal

The Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) have walked out of Parliament in protest over unfair treatment meted to them by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, over the controversial Ameri deal.

The move by the Minority NDC MPs follows series of protests against the conduct of the Speaker over the last couple of days.

It all started when the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu rose up and sought the permission of the Speaker to raise some preliminary issues against a motion which stood in the name of the honourable Member of Parliament for Adansi Asokwa, Kobina Tahir Hammond.

Hon. Hammond per the urgent motion that stood in his name had wanted the House to “rescinds its decision to approve the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Africa and Middle East Resources Investment Group Llc (Ameri Energy) for the installation of ten (10) GE TM2,200+ aero derivative gas turbines, operate, maintain, transfer and provision of support services that the House took on March, 20, 2017, for reasons of gross misrepresentation.”

Hon. Iddrisu holding a Supreme Court ruling of 2016 between John Ndebugri vs Attorney-General and two others reminded the House to tread cautiously over the motion that stood in the name of the Adansi Asokwa lawmaker since any attempt to interrogate the deal may end up in court.

But he was interrupted by the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu who craved the indulgence of the Speaker to rule him out of order since the motion had in the first place not been moved by the lawmaker for Adansi Asokwa.

“Mr. Speaker if a motion has not been moved and seconded, there is nothing before. Mr. Speaker, we are anticipating what may be done. I don’t know under what which Orders the Minority is coming from. The Minority Leader is not competent to comment on a motion that has not been moved. We are not there yet and so you shouldn’t be in a hurry. Clearly he is out of order,” noted Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.

The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, having heard the argument of the Majority Leader ruled the Haruna Iddrisu out of order and allowed K. T. Hammond to move the motion that stood in his name.

“Hon. Minority Leader, this is anticipation. Shall we have the motion properly before the House and then the appropriate thing is done,” he ruled.

The Speaker having listened to the motion moved by Hon. K.T. Hammond which was seconded by the deputy Majority Leader, Sarah Adwoa Safo, referred the matter to the Committee on Mines and Energy.

His reason was to enable all the parties involved in the said Ameri deal appear before the Committee on Mines and Energy to give their side of the issue.

At this juncture, the minority were left with no option than to consult the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Alban Sumana Bagbin, for advice.

After having consulted the Second Deputy Speaker, Haruna Iddrisu therefore signaled his aggrieved members to stage a walk out in protest over the conduct of the Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye.

In the view of the Minority NDC MPs, the Speaker ought to have allowed for debate on the motion after it had been moved but referring it to a committee was uncalled for.

Interacting with journalists over the issue, Haruna Iddrisu said his side was at a lost as to why the Speaker denied them the opportunity to debate the motion but rather referred it to a committee on Mines and Energy.

“A motion which has not been debated, and a motion for which no decision had been taken – this is a House governed by procedure and a House governed by rules and Standing Orders. Nowhere and I challenge you to peruse the Standing Orders and give us basis and justification of the referral.

“We [Minority] had initially signaled that we wanted to raise this constitutional objection to the motion referring to a Supreme Court ruling in the case of Ndebugri vs Attorney-General and two others, where it was decided by the Supreme Court even though on a matter relating to natural resources once Parliament gives approval the matter now is in the realm of the Judiciary where there is a contract in force and that the matter is in the realm of Executive.

“We had raised this constitutional objection, one to seek proper interpretation of Order 93(3) where any Member of Parliament can wake up any day and want to rescind an action of a previous Parliament… The Speaker was not ready to interpret the Standing orders even though he is vested with the power to do so.

“More importantly, even as I was on my feet, I referred to the Ndebugri vs Attorney-General and two others; he did not allow me to refer to the particular quote. He only responded to a point of order by the Hon. K. T. Hammond, and again went into his bizarre conclusion on the matter.

“Under the circumstances, we have no option than to protest the manner in which he’s endangering Parliamentary democracy and its practice. The other day it was about questions and I’m challenging the Ghanaian public and the media and persons who are familiar with parliamentary work and the Hansard to go into the records; everywhere the Minority must have must have its say not its way.

“I have been in Parliament long enough both in opposition and Government to appreciate we cannot have our way. But we will jealously protect and demand that our right of say is respected because that’s why every country has a government but it’s only democracies that have opposition,” he noted.         

 

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