Parliament was on Tuesday embroiled in heated debate, as both sides of the House differed on the constitutionality and the procedure the Legislature should employ in redeeming a seat from a member who becomes a traditional ruler.
The argument was over the enstoolment of the Member of Parliament for Talensi, Robert Nachinab Mosore, who was enskined the paramount Chief of Tongo.
The Majority side of the House, led by the majority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, held that it was unconstitutional for chiefs to double as members of the House, calling on the First Deputy Speaker, Ebo Barton-Odro, who was in the chair, to declare the Talensi seat vacant.
The Minority however countered that argument, saying that, the Speaker did not have the constitutional mandate to make a pronouncement on the matter, advising the Majority to seek redress in court, if the constitution had been so breached.
Alhaji Muntaka appealed to Mr Mosore’s conscience, asking him to as a matter of principle, step down as the member for Talensi because he (Mosore) was breaking the law.
He quoted Article 276 of the Constitution, which states that, “a chief shall not take part in active party politics, and any chief wishing to do so and seeking election to Parliament shall abdicate his stool or skin”
“Robert Mosori, our colleague, has been enstooled a chief. Morally, as a matter of conscience and principle, he should step down. Our colleague should do the honourable thing. He is in a higher capacity of being a Paramount Chief. We should take our emotions out and do what is right,” he said.
Ignatius Baffour Awuah, the Deputy Minority Chief Whip, exasperated by Alhaji Muntaka’s plea, asked the Deputy Speaker to ignore the comments made by the Majority Chief Whip because he was speaking from hearsay, rather than facts.
“I am surprised at his submission. The House deals with facts and records. We are not officially aware that any member has been made a chief. We need to avoid situations where we come here and, instead of speaking to facts, make submissions based on hearsays,” he said.
Mr. Awuah said the minority members were law abiding and would not go against the constitution, if they were officially informed of Mr. Mosori’s enstoolment.
“If indeed it is true that the honourable member of Talensi has been made a Paramount Chief, we will all do what the constitution says,” he said.
But Alhaji Inusah Abdulai Fuseini (NDC Tamale Central), said the House did not need an official notification on the matter since it had become public knowledge, urging the Speaker to institute an investigation into the matter “for the right thing to be done”.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, implored the Minority not to breach the constitution because they were law makers, arguing that, every member of the House has sworn to uphold the Constitution.
“It is prudent that leadership investigates and informs the House on the status of the Member for Talensi. It is a fact, and already in the public domain that the Talensi MP has been installed a chief. The leadership can ascertain the facts to see whether the Talensi MP qualifies to still hold himself as a member of this House,” he said.
However, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, MP for Manhyia South argued that, a person was considered a legal chief only after the National House of Chiefs had gazetted such, chiding the Majority for asking Mr Mosore to step down, saying, “What they are doing is only creating anarchy and chaos in this House”.
“Mr. Speaker, let them not deceive you into making wrong pronouncement on this issues because they are not speaking to the facts. They have no evidence to support their claim. The rules are clear on this,” he said.
Papa Owusu Ankomah (NPP Sekondi), told the House that if the Constitution had been breached by any member, it was not for the Speaker to rule on the matter.
He explained that the issue was constitutional and was not a matter that needed to be raised on the floor for the speaker to give a ruling.
“It is not the business of the House to go about looking for evidence to ascertain a fact. If any member believes that there are facts that disqualify anyone from becoming a member of the House, the person can take the matter to the Supreme Court,” he said.
Mr Barton-Oduro, said “if it is constitutional, the opening is there. Aside that order 51, which deals with the number of days a member is permitted to absent him or herself from the House should be applicable,” and urged the MPs to put the matter to rest.
The Majority Whip rose on his feet again and swore to gather the facts, and get the concerned citizen to get the case to the Supreme Court.
“They should not be afraid of by-elections. They should not attempt to drag this issue because it will never happen,” he said.
In a sharp rebuttal, the Deputy Minority Whip, said “We are not afraid of the by-elections. We are even ready for the main election and we will beat them to it. The issue is of national importance. We will not go against the provisions of the constitution. We want the facts to be published. If today, it is true, we will do what the constitution says. But until that is done, we will not act based on hearsay”. GNA