There were heated arguments on the floor of Parliament today [Friday], from both sides of the chamber over a motion filed by the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, for a special committee to be set up to investigate claims that the Trade Ministry extorted between $25,000 and $100,000 from expatriates to allow them sit close to the President during the Ghana Expatriates Business Awards held in the country.
Members of Parliament were recalled from recess for today’s special sitting over the matter, upon the request of the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak.
Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka,Member of Parliament for Asawase and Minority Chief Whip
Muntaka is asking the House to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the matter, adding that “It is important that these matters are investigated properly…I believe that as a House, we will do what we think is right.”
The heated argument came about after the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, described the motion filed by Muntaka as incompetent.
The Majority Leader had argued that, the motion calling for the special sitting and an ad-hoc committee, was not properly done and thus constitutes a “gross abuse of the processes of the House,” a claim Haruna Iddrisu vehemently rejected.
Muntaka’s name not in motion for special sitting
Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu disclosed that, Muntaka’s name was not part of MPs who signed the letter accompanying the memorandum, adding that 28 of the MPs who were said to have appended their signatures did not do so, but only had their names captured on the letter.
He described it as a “clear case of misrepresentation” because the letter said the “under listed have appended their signatures.”
Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu
Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu noted that, some of the Minority MPs including Collins Daudu, Eric Opoku, Oko Vanderpuije, Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings, Inusah Fuseini, Alban Bagbin among others, have all not appended their signatures to the memo.
“There are many more names listed, and we are being told they have appended their signatures but they have not.”
Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu further described the motion as “incompetent” and thus called for it to be rejected by the Speaker of Parliament.
“So the issue that I raised has to do with misrepresentation and it will be a gross abuse of the processes to come and pray. The second item is that, we should come and correct votes and proceedings. Mr. Speaker, the young indeed shall grow. On the allegations, we have heard the claims put in the public domain. Today, we are witnessing a shift of goal post. The motion before us has nothing to do with extortion.”
“Mr. Speaker, you will notice that I have not attempted to respond to the issue…I’ve not gone into what they are saying…because the motion itself does not talk about that. This is incompetence. They should learn the procedures of this house. Their motion has very wobbly legs. This is a very incompetent motion that has been submitted. So I will urge and pray that you dismiss this. When they come properly even today, we are ready to debate them,” he added.
Muntaka fights back
Unhappy with the claims by the Majority Leader, Muntaka insisted that the motion was competent, adding that “it is most shocking and very disingenuous for the Majority Leader to even imagine that what was done was wrong.”
“My colleague the Majority Leader thinks he is smart. He should read the laws well. The request is in the memo and that is where my signature is,” he argued.
Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, also joined the argument, saying the motion in his possession had enough signatures to fulfill the requirement for such motions.
Speaker of Parliament rules
In his ruling, the Speaker of Parliament described the issues raised on the motion as “procedural irregularities” and suspended the House for 30 minutes in order to have the issues rectified.
“…Those applicants cannot determine the agenda for the House. The business of the house is done by the Executive. When you say I’m forwarding this on behalf of the applicants herein, and the application is attached, it is a procedural irregularity. This matter is a matter of grave importance. The procedural irregularities are being stated so that it must not be repeated. I will therefore direct the House to break for 30 minutes for the procedural irregularities to be corrected. As for those who did not sign it, it is neither here nor there. As far as the number of people required sign, it is so signed. We will suspend the House for 30 minutes and deal with the composition of the actual committee.”