Radio presenter Abubakar Ahmed, alias Blakk Rasta, was yesterday put at the bar of Parliament and reprimanded after being found guilty of making contemptuous remarks about Members of Parliament.
The former Hitz FM employee was alleged to have remarked on radio that 80 percent of MPs smoke marijuana (wee); and was found guilty by the Privileges Committee of Parliament after their interaction with him a few weeks ago.
Blakk Rasta, who was ushered into the chamber and at the bar by the Marshall of Parliament, told the MPs that he was ashamed of himself for making such unguarded remarks and that he was prepared to receive a slap from each one of them as his punishment.
“Mr Speaker, as I stand here I am crying in my stomach and if you are close to me you would see that my face is bleeding. I am so ashamed of myself and if I should take a slap each from every MP as punishment, I will do that,” he told the MPs.
The Privileges Committee found him guilty after he initially denied making that comment when he appeared before the committee in the company of his counsel. But after a tape of what he indeed said about the MPs was played back to him at the committee’s sitting, he accepted his fault before going ahead to apologise.
The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, in reprimanding Blakk Rasta, said Parliament as an institution had powers to jail people who made contemptuous remarks or utterances about the House or MPs and that after Parliament had invited Blakk Rasta to appear before its Privileges Committee, some professors and members of the academia had been arguing that Parliament did not have such powers.
“Those who say we don’t have that power to sentence people can proceed to the Supreme Court when we decide to exercise that power.”
According to the Speaker, Blakk Rasta’s utterances about MPs were very reprehensible.
“To smoke wee is a criminal offence and to say that 80 percent of MPs smoke wee means 80 percent of our lawmakers are criminals,” the Speaker noted, adding that if Blakk Rasta did not appreciate the work of MPs, he should not criminalise them by saying MPs smoke wee.
Speaker Adjaho said many people think Parliament is a place of marking proficiency in English Language
“We don’t come here to mark English Language. We are here to represent the people who voted for us and so if we speak and understand each other, we do our work as MPs,” he said.
“People must know that the people who voted for us are more intelligent than any other individual.”
According to the Speaker, he was one of the fans of Blakk Rasta, but after he made those utterances against MPs, he had ceased to be the presenter’s fan.
The Speaker therefore warned Blakk Rasta not to commit that offence again or Parliament would exact a stiffer punishment for him or any other offender.
Rt Hon Edward Doe Adjaho also criticised the media for not being circumspect in the discharge of their constitutional duties.
“In fact I respect the media very much because they provide the fertile ground for democracy to grow, but they must know that freedom of speech as enshrined in the Constitution is not absolute and so must be exercised with a lot of circumspection of responsibility,” he noted.
Earlier, the MP for Abuakwa South, Samuel Atta Akyea, had argued strongly that Blakk Rasta should be handed a stiff punishment to put the ‘fear of God’ into people who had taken Parliament for granted.
According to him, Parliament is probably the most important arm of government because the President, who is the head of the Executive, is made to swear before Parliament before he could be recognised as the President of the Republic; while the Chief Justice, who is also the head of the Judiciary, would also have to be approved by Parliament before he/she could assume office.
The Second Deputy Speaker, Joe Ghartey, said even though the remarks made by Blakk Rasta were very serious and brought the dignity of the institution into great disrepute, Members of Parliament should have mercy on him because the Bible says ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall have mercy.”
The Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, on his part, said the Privileges Committee should have probed more into the statement made by Blakk Rasta to the effect that he was “on heat” when he made those contemptuous comments about MPs.
“The Committee should have found out what kind or type of heat Blakk Rasta was on when he made those remarks so that we would have known the mindset with which he made those contemptuous remarks,” the minority leader indicated.
Prof Dodoo Discharged
Prof Alex Dodoo was however discharged and warned after showing enormous remorse when he appeared before the committee.
The Privileges Committee said that even before Prof Dodoo was cross-examined, his counsel had rendered profuse apology for his client’s comments and after that the professor himself also used a number of media platforms to render unqualified apology to parliamentarians for his comment that ‘MPs are ignorant about issues of Ebola Vaccine Trials and that if they do not have any knowledge about Ebola Vaccine Trials, they must shut up’.