Parliament has defended the suspension of proceedings by the speaker of parliament, Professor Mike Oquaye instead of an indefinite adjournment.
The Speaker of Parliament on Saturday, April 4, declared an indefinite suspension of the House instead of an adjournment.
In a statement, Parliament’s justification for supporting the speaker’s action was linked to the circumstances around the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
“What the Speaker did was in recognition of the fact that the whole nation is in a general state of emergency and so it is important that the House acts in a manner that will bring utmost benefit to the welfare of the nation.”
“This point becomes even more poignant as a result of the fact that not being in normal times, the House could be recalled at any time. It is, therefore, necessary, that the Households itself in readiness for any eventuality,” the statement added.
However, the Minority in Parliament was unhappy about the speaker’s action and has threatened to drag the speaker to the Supreme Court after describing the suspension as illegal and unacceptable.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrissu, said the Speaker’s action was a sabotage of the tenets, values, and principles of rule of law, specifically, the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana.
Usually, when ending a sitting, the Speaker would adjourn the House indefinitely and a recall of the House would require a 14-day notice.
In a letter signed by the Director of Public Affairs at the parliament, Kate Addo, the house cited Standing Order 6 which gives the Speaker room to “make provisions as he deems fit” when there is no explicit direction.
“At the moment, there are no express provisions for the indefinite suspension, nor the adjournment of the House at the end of a Meeting. It is therefore imperative that the Speaker provides the needed direction,” Parliament noted.
She further elaborated that the indefinite suspension of the House by the Speaker does not amount to discontinuing the session without dissolving it.
“Indeed the Speaker of Parliament is not vested with the power to prorogue Parliament as per Article 113(1) of the Constitution and if any Speaker did that, it will be null and void. In Parliament, the maxim is that Members agree to disagree and arguments in the House could sometimes be not only vociferous but also forceful.”
Meanwhile, the statement concluded by saying “places a very high premium on consensus building” and “notwithstanding the misunderstanding and seeming acrimonious note on which the House ended, the Leadership of the House is in communication to resolve the issues for the benefit of the country which remains paramount.”
How is parliament contributing to the fight against the coronavirus?
The Speaker of Parliament, Mike Oquaye has donated half of his monthly salary to the COVID-19 Trust Fund for three months.
Parliament has also donated an amount of two hundred thousand Ghana cedis to the COVID-19 Trust Fund to help fight the virus.
The Majority Caucus in Parliament on Saturday, April 4, 2020 donated GH¢100,000 to the COVID-19 Trust Fund.
“Mr. Speaker, let me announce that Majority has decided to contribute GH¢100,000 to complement the efforts of the government to fighting this disruptive menace,” the Majority Leader stated.
Adansi Asokwa MP, K. T. Hammond, has also instructed the Finance Department of Parliament to donate his two months’ salary to the COVID-19 Trust Fund.
“I am donating my salary; April and May to the fund. I am calling on MPs, at least senior ones like me. And those on the Minority side, I am urging them to follow the president’s example, vice president’s example. And follow suit,” he said.