Martin Amidu and Mahama Ayariga
The Member of Parliament for the Bawku Central Constituency, Mr Mahama Ayariga says he won’t be able to honour a court summons by the Office of the Special Prosecutor because Parliament will be sitting on that day.
Mr Ayariga in a letter addressed to the Special Prosecutor (SP), Mr Martin Amidu and dated Sunday, June 2, said he can’t honour the Tuesday, June 4 summons and can only be present in court on any other day that does not coincide with Parliamentary sittings.
He further warned that any conduct by the SP which impedes or obstructs his right to Parliament on that day will amount to Contempt of Parliament.
The legislator said he was not enthused about abandoning his parliamentary duties to respond to what he described as an “inappropriately timed invitation”.
Mr Ayariga said he had sighted a letter to the Speaker of the Parliament, Mike Oquaye and copied to himself which requests that he be released for arraignment in court, however, he contends that the Speaker was not vested with the powers to release a sitting MP from sittings.
“My inability to honour your invitation is because Parliament is in session and will be sitting on that day Tuesday 4th June 2019,” Mr Ayariga’s letter sighted by Graphic Online reads.
“The Parliament of Ghana, when in session, sits on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and any other day appointed by the Speaker that is not a public holiday. I can come to court on any other day when Parliament is not sitting.
“The constitutional right of a Member of Parliament to represent his or her constituency in Parliament and to participate in proceedings and vote will be abridged if an effort is made to compel that person to respond to an invitation that will take that person out of Parliament at a period when the House of Parliament is in session and sitting. It will equally constitute an abridgement of that constitutional right of a Parliamentarian if, by your deliberate conduct, a Parliamentarian is rendered unable in anyway to be in the House during any of the periods and days when Parliament is sitting.
“Assuming that I even want to honour your invitation, given the high office in whose name you act, I will have to seek and obtain permission from the Rt. Hon Speaker to be able to do so. Unfortunately, I am not enthused about abandoning my parliamentary duties in response to your inappropriately timed invitation Absenting myself from sittings of Parliament for a certain number of days, without the Speaker’s permission, could be grounds for my removal from Parliament. This is trite constitutional law”.
Mr Ayariga also urged Mr Amidu to seek an interpretation at the Supreme Court relative to the powers of the Speaker.
“For the avoidance of doubt, be informed that any conduct on your part that in any way impedes or obstructs my right to be in Parliament on 4th June and represent the good people of Bawku will amount to Contempt of Parliament. I believe you have read article 122 of the Constitution of Ghana. The language of article 122 does bind even the Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament and your letter invites him to engage in an unconstitutional conduct for which he can also be cited for contempt of Parliament.
“I only just returned this morning from Abuja in Nigeria where I was attending the ECOWAS Parliament as a member of Ghana’s delegation to that Parliament Accept this as part of my initial response to your letter to the Rt. Hon. Speaker which you graciously copied me. I will in the course of the week write to you again responding to some substantive matters contained in those letters. Epistle writing runs through our blood and it will not be wrong to say you have passed on the trait to me your true son”.
SP charges on Ayariga
Per a leaked charge sheet signed by the Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu, on March 22, 2019, he is also facing charges including four counts of fraudulent evasion of customs duties and taxes, dealing in foreign exchange without licence and transfer of foreign exchange from Ghana through an unauthorised dealer.
Mr Ayariga has denied all charges.
Read Mr Ayariga’s letter below;