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Opinions of Friday, 15 July 2011

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.

The NPP Minority Makes Me .... Want to Piss!!

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
E-mail: July 13, 2011
There is pissing everywhere. By whatever the NPP might mean or do to him, the former Minister of Local Government, Kwamena Ahwoi, may not be the only person to be prompted into pissing. Others are doing so for various reasons, mostly based on the political developments that have continued to create anxious moments for the people. It seems that many things are happening to make every one of us want to piss.
The uproar raised in Parliament for 45 minutes by the NPP Minority side is the latest development, which is not only appalling but which also provides moments for indiscriminate pissing. I am pissing myself off too… on them.
The NPP MPs are reported to have vehemently protested against the arrest of one of them, Samuel Atta Akyea, MP for Abuakwa South, by the police on Tuesday July 12, 2011. The offence for which Akyea was arrested is nothing secret. It has been in the public domain ever since it cropped up late last year; and the MP himself has been garrulous, singing his own innocence all along.
The police arrested and charged him with stealing and dishonest breach of trust. A contractor, Joseph Adom of J. Adom Limited, a construction firm accused Akyea of a series of dishonest acts, including defrauding him of $60,000. Akyea is currently on a $100,000 bail with one surety.
This was the motivation for the NPP Minority in Parliament who claimed that the arrest was done in defiance of the provisions of the Constitution. They argued that the wrong procedure was taken in arresting Akyea. I piss on them!! Many aspects of the NPP Minority’s conduct annoy me. The sickening zeal with which they are pursuing this matter flies in the face of the disgusting apathy with which they respond to problems facing the citizens. As Parliamentarians, one expects them to approach anything affecting ALL citizens with the kind of enthusiasm that will warrant solutions to those problems. These MPs have failed woefully to tackle the problems that continue to make life unbearable for the citizens and look on while diverse forms of injustice are meted out to the people.
These MPs from all the political camps are behaving despicably. They haven’t performed creditably enough to endear themselves to the hearts of the electorate (or the citizenry at large) and are known to come together to speak with one voice and act concertedly only in matters concerning their own welfare. We have in mind their collective agitation for car loans throughout the 19 years that the 4th Republic has been in existence; the demand for higher salaries and allowances as well as other privileges, including housing, telecommunication facilities, and many others.
We know what the Parliamentary Service provides for them, which they hug very close to their chests and guard against public scrutiny while turning a blind eye to the deplorable service conditions of all others, including their own drivers!! The Constitution itself provides opportunities for them to make additional income by allowing them to continue practising their trades. Those who do so criss-cross between their professional requirements and Parliamentary service, torn between sustaining their careers and being in Parliament. We have all been bothered about the lack of quorum in Parliament, which stalled official business, apparently because MPs are more desirous of seeking their personal wellbeing through their professional practice than in performing duties for which they were elected into the Legislature.
Again, we know that our MPs have innumerable opportunities to make money out of their standing. By either serving on committees and commissions from where they draw fat allowances or because they are positioned to go on foreign trips in the name of “official business” and draw huge per diem allowances, these MPs have numerous avenues to enrich themselves but are never so satisfied as not to look for other opportunities to gloat themselves on ill-gotten wealth. I have in mind the criminal activities indulged in by some MPs over the years, the latest one against which the NPP MPs are up in arms to denounce the police for doping their legitimate duty. The criminal case involving the NDC MP for Sene seems to have been left in limbo while others are disregarded with contempt. The former Speaker of Parliament, Begyina Sekyi-Hughes should have been behind bars had the Police been bold enough to shrug off any official interference to prosecute him.
The Legislature itself didn’t want to push the case for trial because Sekyi-Hughes’ crime is nothing strange to the MPs. They are all guilty, in one way or the other, of what one of them is being accused of. Thus, by this tacit conspiracy, if an MP or anybody well-placed in the workings of the Legislature offends the law, everything will be done by his/her colleagues to shield him/her. This is the kind of Parliament we have for which the ordinary Ghanaian tax-payer is being squeezed to yield the wherewithal to support. The argument that the Police did the wrong thing by waylaying Atta Akyea and arresting him in the course of performing his Parliamentary duties is STUPID. I want to tell these NPP MPs straight to their faces that they are mischievous in using this argument to support their dissension in Parliament for 45 minutes!! The question is not about Akyea’s performing his legitimate Parliamentary duties at the time of his arrest. It is one of his doing a private legal business for personal gains. Was he in court that day to defend Parliament in any case or was he there simply because he was acting on the orders of Parliament? No!! Atta Akyea was a Parliamentarian on a private business mission and was arrested outside the purview of Parliamentary business.
This is where Ken Dzirasa, the former South Tongu NDC MP’s point comes in handy to suggest that the provision being used by the NPP Minority is out of step with reality. In its current form, that provision is dangerously ambiguous. It says that an MP cannot be arrested while Parliament is in session.
Those who framed the Parliamentary Service Orders seemed to have left this provision ambiguous this way, apparently because they knew it would shield errant MPs, which is the cause of confusion and irritation in Akyea’s case. The framers of this provision are part of the problem, apparently, being MPs themselves. Does the operational phrase, “while Parliament is in session” refer to the entire period in the year when Parliament is convened, or the specific period during the day when Parliament is in session, or what? This is where the ambiguity lies.
If the NPP Minority are saying that one of them was wrongfully arrested just because of his status as an MP, which will mean an over-extension of that provision, they will be setting themselves up for needless harsh words. Atta Akyea was arrested, not because he was singled out, but because he was involved in a crime that have been clearly defined in our legal and penal codes. I won’t buy the argument that his arrest had anything peculiar to it for which his colleagues must raise storm. So also will it be foolish for anybody to argue that he was arrested without prior notification or approval from the Speaker of Parliament. The Police claimed they had already written to the Speaker on his misconduct and their intention to take action against him. That move in itself is unacceptable.
Taken to a higher level, the argument that the police should have sought permission from the Speaker before arresting him is itself nonsensical. What did the United States law enforcement agents do when they acted against Ernest Amoateng in November 2005? Did they bother to inform Ghana’s Parliament of which he was a member or did they defer to the Speaker of Parliament to seek his consent before taking him on?
Granted that Amoateng was arrested in a foreign land, we may not be making a good comparison; but his case only goes to tell us that when it comes to criminal acts, no one should try to put the impediment in the way of the law enforcement agents. These are the very people who will turn round to accuse the police of inefficiency!!
Atta Akyea is just a citizen who must be treated as will any other citizen (or even non-Ghanaian) who flouts the country’s laws. His being an MP doesn’t in any way thrust any immunity on him, especially if the action for which he is being tackled has nothing to do with the functions of Parliament. He acted as a private citizen and is being called to answer for that action. In arresting him, whether the police chose “waylaying” as the most effective method or not doesn’t breach any aspect of the Constitution at all. After all, if anything at all, Akyea has himself to blame. The police had invited him to help them pursue the case but he refused to collaborate. By so doing, he had become unpatriotic and irresponsible, forcing the police to do what they are being paid by the tax-payer to do.
Instead of condemning the police and seeking to make a mountain out of a molehill, it is better for the NPP politicians to behave responsibly and position themselves to fight for every citizen, regardless of tribe, creed, or political persuasion. Their speedy vitriolic reaction to this matter is sickening. We don’t want to think that these NPP MPs are up on their feet only because it is one of them on the ivory tower who has been brought so low by his own miscalculation.
What is good for Parliamentarian Samuel Atta Akyea must be good for Citizen Kwame Ansong. Let’s make our law the respecter of no person and support the law enforcement agencies to do their legitimate duties in peace. It is only then that we can root out the wrong doings that militate against our progress.