General News of Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Source: The Scandal

Merbank Saga: Doe Adjaho contradicts himself

The decision by Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Edward Doe Adjaho to dismiss the motion filed by the Minority NPP in Parliament demanding an immediate investigation into the controversial sale of Merchant Bank to Fortiz has opened the Pandora’s Box with many observers recalling the history of the Legislature relative to cases before it and also pending before the Courts.

Many of such recalled cases do not support the stance taken by the Speaker of Parliament making some people to term it as ‘Doe Adjaho Contradicts Doe Adjaho’, especially since he presided and ruled over some of such similar instances.

In throwing out the Minority’s motion last week, Mr. Doe Adjaho said Parliament cannot be seen to be prejudicing a case that is currently before the courts. According to him, two legs of the case are already in court with a third being on appeal and would rather the courts ruled on the matters currently before them.

However, the reason he cited before throwing out the motion would be gasping for breath when it is juxtaposed with his earlier stance in 2009 in the matter of the vetting of Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni as a Foreign Affairs Minister of State. The Minority NPP members on the Vetting Committee argued that since the nominee was in court answering charges of malfeasance, his vetting should be stayed.

The 2004 report by the Auditor General accused the former minister of causing the loss of a colossal sum of 15 billion old cedis through his involvement with the NVTI loan and another accusation of “fraudulently” releasing “amounts in excess of 19 billion old cedis from the Consolidated Fund.” However, the then Chairman of the Vetting Committee, Hon. Doe Adjaho who was then the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament ruled against the position of the Minority paving the way for the vetting of Hon. Mumuni and his subsequent approval. It must be put on record that the Minority walked out of his vetting.

It would also be recalled that in 2010, James Kwabena Bomfeh Jnr prayed the Supreme Court to freeze Parliamentary debate on the STX Korea Housing deal but although the case was pending before the apex Court of the land, Parliament with Rt. Hon Edward Doe Adjaho presiding, debated the deal and passed it.

The MP for Dome-Kwabenya and 2nd Deputy Speaker, Professor Mike Oquaye who disagreed with the decision to continue the debate whilst the matter was pending at the Supreme Court stated that “The Parliament of this country is not sovereign; the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana is subject to the constitution. The Parliament in its function is subject to the constitution and it is only the Supreme Court which is given that power under article 127 to interpret the law and in fact the capacity to set aside and declare as unconstitutional whatever Parliament does. The Parliament of Ghana cannot engage in unconstitutionality and go away with it”.

Another classic example of contradiction is when a citizen of Ghana went to the Supreme Court in 2012, praying the court for an interlocutory injunction restraining the Electoral Commission from creating 45 new Constituencies. The then Majority Leader, Cletus Avoka argued strongly that Parliament was an independent body and so could not be restrained by the pending case at the Supreme Court.

The case of former Zebilla Member of Parliament (MP) John Ndebugri who last year sued the Energy Minister, Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah and the clerk of Parliament for contempt could also be cited as an example of contradiction.

The former MP had sought an interim injunction at the Supreme Court, restraining the Energy Minister from laying a new agreement between the GNPC and AMP Petroleum over oil exploration in the Deep South Tano block.

According to Mr. Ndebugri, the injunction application was duly served on the Minister and the Clerk of Parliament with the former filing an affidavit in opposition to the interlocutory injunction.

The former PNC MP said he was shocked the Energy Minister, through his Deputy John Jinapor, went ahead to lay the agreement in Parliament in November, despite a Supreme Court decision to rule on the injunction application later in the month.

These seeming inconsistencies in the Speaker’s rulings under similar circumstances leave much to be desired. It makes the law look like a fluid that can be poured into a container of any shape to get whatever preconceived result that one is looking for.