The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin has said political parties do not have the power to remove any Member of Parliament no matter the reasons they may have against the lawmaker.
According to him, it is only the Speaker who can take that decision.
Mr Bagbin specifically told the New Patriotic Party (NPP) that they do not have the power to remove Dome-Kwabenya Member of Parliament Sarah Adwoa Safo from the House.
He explained that if a lawmaker acts in ways that can lead to his or her removal, the privileges’ committee of Parliament will invite the person and listen to explanations for the conduct. If the committee finds the action justifiable, then they will allow the person to go unpunished but if otherwise, they will refer the matter to the house for a debate on it.
After the debate, the Speaker will then decide whether or not the lawmaker should be expelled, he added.
“The term used in the Constitution is vacation of the position of Member of Parliament and the circumstances are clear, when an MP is absent for fifteen sittings of Parliament, in a meeting, and a meeting is three months, it is not a session which is 12 months.
“Those are the words of the constitution. Now, the genesis of this provision is from the days of Nkrumah where RB Okyere, who was one of the opposition members had to run to Cote D’Ivoire and whiles even in Cote D’Ivoire, he was sending leave of absence which were always automatically approved and he was to be there for over two years enjoying all his conditions of service and claiming to be attending medical treatment. The gentlemen who pleaded guilty in the 1963 treason trial is the one I am referring to.
“That is where the genesis started, that time it was twenty days, now it is fifteen days. Some parliaments, it is ninety days some even more.
“Our constitution did not talk about it being consecutive but I have been getting reports from Civil society calculating it on session and just adding your days of absence and saying that you should have vacated your seat. But when I read a lot of cases in other jurisdictions they said consecutive, fifteen consecutive sitting days in a meeting. That is the circumstances under which Speaker will be called upon to refer the matter to the privilege’s committee who will invite the member to come and explain why the absence without the permission from the speaker.
“If a reason is given that is reasonable, then the person will not have vacated she or his seat. It is when the committee decides that the reason is not reasonable then they will report to the House, the House will debate it and the decision will be taken. That is the process we go through, we haven’t gone there yet but there is a call for removal.
“When I hear my colleagues in the NPP say that they have removed Adwoa Safo I ask, do you have that power? You can use your party to take her off as a member of your party and that can trigger some constitutional consequences but you cannot just go and sit down and say you have removed her because it is only the Speaker that can declare the seat vacant.”
Meanwhile, Majority Leader in Parliament Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has said that Parliament will listen to Adwoa Safo on why she absented herself from Parliament for more than fifteen days.
The Leader of the Government Business told TV3’s Benjamin Aidoo in interview on Monday February 28, said after he was asked when the Gender Minister was returning to Ghana that ” In the course of the week she may come down hopefully.”
Asked again whether she will be punished for absenting herself from Parliament for more than fifteen days, the Suame lawmaker said “where we are, our orders have adequate provisions to deal with some of these matters but it depends on whatever excuse she has, if it is plausible.
“Which is why the orders provide that a person who absents himself or herself for more than fifteen days in the meeting is unable to provide plausible justification for the absence, then the committee of Privileges could propose sanctions, so it depends on the information she is coming with.”
Some members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) believe Adwoa Safo is sabotaging the government. For instance, the MP for New Juabeng South, Michael Okyere Baafi, said she is making the work of the government in Parliament difficult.
“All the problems government is facing are attributable to Adwoa Safo. Clearly, her intention and posture show that she wants to sabotage NPP,” he said on Kumasi-based Hello FM.
The MP for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyapong also revealed that the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare gave him ¢120,000 to be deposited into the bank account of Adwoa Safo for her to attend to Parliamentary duties to work for the government.
“The Chief of Staff called me and I went, I swear my mother’s grave, Chief of Staff gave me ¢120,000 and deposited into Adwoa Safo’s Fidelity Bank account.
“I took the money there into the Fidelity Account, ask her personal assistant if what I am saying is not the truth,” a furious Kennedy Agyapong said.
He added “Now we are in opposition, the way Adwoa Safo is treating the party, it is clearly showing that we are in opposition and this shouldn’t be tolerated at all,” he told Asaase Radio on Tuesday February 22.
Mr Agyapong had raised issues against the conduct of Sarah Adwoa Safo.
He said that the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection has failed in life for requesting that she should be made a Deputy Majority Leader in Parliament.
He wondered why a cabinet minister will now want to occupy a position that is below the rank of a Minister.
Speaking on her rampant absence from Parliament, Mr Agyapong, who has two children with her, said: “She says she wants to be Deputy Majority, that woman has failed in life. A whole cabinet minister now demanding that she should be made a Deputy Majority Leader before she comes, she should go to hell.
“You don’t come to Parliament and you are on TikTok dancing? Dome Kwabenya is not for Apostle Kwadwo Safo, get it straight. I am very furious because people are insulting me because I went there to campaign for her. Mike Oquaye the Speaker, the man that I respect very well, I campaigned against his son because Adwoa used my kids, calling me and begging me to help her. And now everybody is insulting me for doing that but I have not regretted it, she is very responsible when it comes to the kids,” he said on GTV Monday, February 21.
Asked how many days she has been absent from Parliament, he answered: “More than 15 days and the law says 15 days.”
Asked again whether Ghanaians should expect her seat to be declared vacant, he said: “Why not? She should go and contest on TikTok.”