Ken Agyapong’s Contempt case: Parliament’s Privileges Committee forced to adjourn sitting indefinitely

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The Chairman of the Privileges Committee of Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu, was compelled to adjourn sittings of the committee indefinitely following a question of objection raised by Counsels for the Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyapong.

At its sitting on Tuesday, July 3, 2018, Counsels for the Assin Central lawmaker, Alexander Afenyo-Markin and Kwadwo Tahir Hammond, drew the Committee’s attention to a letter signed by three Members of the Committee who had willingly expressed their intent to disqualify themselves from the ongoing investigations involving Kennedy Agyapong over his alleged utterances against the legislature.

The three, Cynthia Morrison, MP for Agona West, Naana Eyiah, MP for Gomoa Central and Samuel Nsowa-Djan, MP for Upper Denkyira West, had argued based on Order 164(4) of the Standing Orders of Parliament that the “Respondent Contemnor is the Caucus Chairman for Central Region and all of us have a close relationship with. We are unable therefore to discharge our duties without bias”.

Order 164(4) of the Standing Orders of Parliament states that “A Member of the Committee may disqualify himself from participating in any investigations of the conduct of a Member, officer or employee of the House upon a declaration in writing that he cannot render an impartial and unbiased decision in the case which he seeks to disqualify himself. If the Committee approves and accepts such disqualification, the Chairman shall so notify the Speaker who shall request the Leader of the same political party as the disqualifying Member to designate a Member from his party to act as a Member of the Committee in any proceedings relating to such investigation”.

Joseph Osei Owusu, after listening to the argument advanced by the Counsels for the Assin Central lawmaker, granted their request and adjourned sittings indefinitely.

He had earlier quashed same objection together with two others on grounds that the Committee had not received a copy of the said letter signed by the three MPs.

However, upon the insistence of the Counsels for Kennedy Agyapong that his refusal would amount to injustice on their client per the principles of natural justice and having served the Committee with a copy of the said letter, the Chairman was left with no option than to grant the request by the three MPs.

The Assin Central lawmaker was summoned to appear before the Privileges Committee for allegedly describing the legislature as “cheap” and “useless” without which it wouldn’t have elected Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu as its leader.

This follows a complaint that was filed by the Minority Chief Whip and MP for Asewase, Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak-Muntaka to the Speaker of Parliament, drawing his attention to the alleged comments passed by the Assin Central lawmaker.

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