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The Minority NDC group in Parliament is aggrieved over the stands taken by Speaker Michael Oquaye to deny the Ranking Member on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, an opportunity to contribute to a statement bordering on some Ghanaian migrants stranded in Spain.
All attempts made by the Minority Leadership to persuade the Speaker to rescind his decision on Tuesday fell on deaf ears after a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Muhammad Tijani, made a statement on the Floor to respond to media publications on the migrant issue which government considered erroneous.
The statement pointed out that even though the Ministry acknowledges that some Ghanaians have been identified among the economic migrants confined in a refugee camp in Spain, the government is taking steps to secure their release under the tenets of International law.
The statement herefore cautioned against politicization of the issue where the facts are presented as though the government is unconcerned about their plight.
The Speaker noted that the Ranking Member had breached Parliamentary protocol and privileges by making his personal views known in the media instead of waiting to make a statement on the Floor of the House.
“The Honorable Ranking forfeits his rights to bring this matter right before this House because when he had the chance, he did not go to Ahinfie. Let us get this principle right.
“Any Honorable Member who intends to bring a matter before this House, by our rules and privileges, must come to this House and not turn into a gallery of media play,” he indicated.
According to the Minority, the Speaker’s behaviour amounted to abusing the Speakership and Majoritiship as well as gaging and intimidation. They said the decision was not grounded in any law Governing the conduct of Parliamentary proceedings and therefore too arbitrary.
Speaking in an interview with the Parliamentary Press Corps on the sidelines of the Parliamentary sitting on Thursday, the Ranking Member who was almost to tears, expressed shock and disappointment at the treatment meted out to him by the Speaker and was at a loss as to which part of the Standing Orders he had breached.
Speaking to the issue, Okudzeto indicated that he had early on submitted a statement to the Speaker to be delivered on the Floor of the House but the Speaker failed to admit it on time only to be surprised by another statement on the same subject by the Deputy Minister.
According to him, a special mission he embarked upon to the Spanish port city Valencia on behalf of the Minority in Parliament revealed that some 29 Ghanaians were among the stranded refugees, including pregnant women and some minors.
He reported that birthing of the vessel Aquarius operated by Doctors without Borders (MSF) and Franco-German charity SOS Mediterranee which rescued 629 migrants off the Coast of Libya into Spain’s territorial waters averted what would have been a humanitarian catastrophe.
According to him, the Ghanaian migrants he interacted with, reccounted harrowing accounts of their journey from Techiman in Ghana to Niger then to Libya and across the Sahara desert before paying for their passage on board dinghies from Libya to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.
However, as a counter to the Ranking Member’s interview to the media, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Frank Annor Dompreh, rubbished the account by Okudzeto Ablakwa while he insisted that Government sources at the Ghanaian Mission in Spain have denied that any Ghanaian were among the refugees.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, who made the statement in Parliament acknowledged that there were indeed some Ghanaians involved and the Government is doing it’s best to secure their release within International law.
Source: Clement Akoloh || Afriwakeradio.com