The Speaker of Parliament is very disturbed that people or entities are chasing MPs with their suits in the house, within the precincts of the house, while they are on their way to or from the business of the house. They are being compelled to attend court, arrested without notice to him or being served with criminal summons during months when Parliament is in session.
This conduct, he stresses sins against the constitutional injunction in articles 117 and 118. He assures the MPs he has procured the Chief Justice’s support to get them a reprieve from the nuisance of bailiffs and other officers of the court. It is good Speaker Alban Bagbin acknowledges the privileges and immunities granted them are not absolute and that MPs have the dishonorable habit of running away from court and court processes 367 days a year in the name of doing parliament’s business.
Yes, taking a vacation, going to the movies and visiting the loo at home are all parliamentary business. Yes, these are the same people Speaker after Speaker chastises for lateness, absenteeism, and putting their private business above lawmaking. Yes, it is okay to enjoy a bit of what the President gets to avoid undue interference with your work.
But makers of the Constitution certainly didn’t intend the absurdity that leads to the suggestion that the only time the law can deal with an errant MP is when the house is on recess. Even that you have to issue a certificate to declare an MP as not going to, being about or returning from the business of the house before we can hand court documents to them to come to answer for one act or the other, pay their debts, pay schools or get them out of a land they are trespassing on or divorce them?
Well, apart from the law permitting service of court processes by publishing or posting them on walls etc, changes have recently been made that make it even easier now. The one suing simply has to choose an electronic service and the documents will be delivered by email, WhatsApp etc without the stress of chasing after you. The good thing is if you ignore it, you will wake up to your bank account being frozen and emptied or property being seized and auctioned to satisfy a judgment debt.
We know those true representatives of the people and we know those who fight for parliamentary seats to serve their private business interests. Citizens are ready to let you enjoy these privileges and immunities but not until MPs are seen, generally, to be truly deserving of them.
Dear MPs please help ensure the trees planted last Friday and watered by God’s rain don’t die, and we just may declare you deserving even of more privileges.
Meanwhile Mr. Speaker please keep up with the detailed thoroughly researched written rulings you have started rendering. You must have such great legal research team. That’s my take.
Source: Samson Lardy ANYENINI
Editor’s Note: Samson Lardy ANYENINI is a Ghanaian lawyer and journalist who works for Multimedia Ghana’s Joy Fm. He hosts Joynews and Joy FM’s weekend current affairs news analysis Newsfile programme. He won the category of Best Journalist for 2019 GIJ Annual Awards.