KT Hammond, Afenyo ‘Rescue’ Kennedy — Over Contempt Charges
Two leading members of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) have appeared before Parliament’s Privileges Committee over the contempt noose hanging over the neck of Kennedy Agyapong, MP for Assin Central in the Central Region.
Kobina Tahir Hammond, Member of Parliament for Adansi Asokwa in the Ashanti Region and Alexander Afenyo Markins Efutu, MP in the Central Region appearing as counsels for the “contemnor” are set to rescue their client largely described as a firebrand of the NPP.
At its sitting yesterday, the duo secured a preliminary first round victory, urging the Committee to adjourn sittings to allow some members who had decided to recuse themselves from the case to do so.
They are Cynthia Morrison, Member for Agona West, Naana Eyiah, Member for Gomoa Central and Samuel Nsowah Gyan, Member for Upper Denkyira West.
The lawyers for the maverick Assin Central MP had also stated that the adjournment was necessary for the committee to follow due process in respect of the situation.
Lawyer for the respondent earlier raised objection to the use of the phrase ‘Respondent Contemnor’ by the Chairman of the Committee and prayed that same should be amended to ‘Respondent’, on the grounds that his client had not yet been convicted for the offence to warrant the description.
The objection was upheld by the Chairman who gave the background of the Committee’s mandate.
He said that the Speaker of the House referred substantive matter involving an alleged contemptuous statement by the Respondent, Mr. Agyapong for the committee to determine whether those comments were truly made, and if so whether they constitute contempt.
Counsel for the respondent raised four preliminary objections to the complaint.
He made the argument on the grounds that an alleged Graphic publication on June 6th, 2018 sought to attribute comments allegedly being prejudicial of the hearing to certain members of the Committee.
He added that the said publication had certain members of the Committee saying that the respondent has a case to answer, and that prima farcie case had been established against the respondent.
He therefore demanded that those members recuse themselves from the hearing.
He added that “when a matter is before a Committee for hearing, you don’t go behind the committee and make prejudicial comments” adding that the said publication had injured the reputation of his client.
On the second objection, Afenyo Markin, the continuous participation of those members who made those prejudicial statements aforementioned would occasion bias and injustice against his client.
The lawyer further submitted that, the complainant relied on Order 78 and 91 (b) of the regulations and standing Orders of the House respectively as basis for his complaint.
However, the lawyer was of the view that per the processes of the House, the motion for which the substantive case was referred to the Committee was not seconded and carried.
According to him, the records of the House has it that A. B. A. Fuseini, Member for Sagnarigu constituency did not second the motion when it got to his turn to do so.
He added that, he rather said “Rt. Hon. Speaker, it is with deep regret that I stand to support the motion”. He said that supporting a motion is not the same as seconding same.
He argued that, in semi-criminal cases of such, “substance and process is meritorious”, hence the matter should be struck out.
The third ground of objection by council to respondent was on the ground that, respondent had not been served with copies of the evidence before the Committee for his perusal.
He therefore prayed that per the laws of natural justice, his client should be served with same and given ample time to respond accordingly.
The last objection by lawyer for the respondent was on the earlier grounds that some members of the Committee had communicated their intention to recuse themselves from sitting.
The objections were overruled, however the insistence by both lawyers for respondent prevailed, and the Chairman accordingly upheld the objections and indefinitely adjourned sittings for the Committee to follow due process in the hearing.
By: Frederick E. Aggrey