So let’s have some public discourse and education here with regards the immunities of a Member of Parliament and the Hon. Lawyer Francis-Xavier Sosu issue.
Articles 117 & 118 of the 1992 Constitution provides immunity from the service of process and arrest and from witness summons. This is not a self arrogated right claimed by MPs. The Constitution bestows that immunity.
These immunities granted in 117 & 118 are relative to the functions of an MP whilst he is on his way to, attending at or returning from any proceedings of Parliament.
The issue many have contended with are what are the proceedings of Parliament? Is it only Chamber sittings? Does it extend to Committee sittings within and outside the precincts of Parliament? Are Parliamentary functions like Town Halls, Community and Social Engagements attended upon in an official capacity determined as Parliamentary proceedings or functions?
This is where there is a world of differing opinions outside the precincts of Parliament. Within Parliament, we are clear what it is. All the above-listed activities in 3 qualify as Parliamentary duties or proceeding insofar as the MP is acting in an official capacity.
The question then arises that can an MP ever be said not to be on Parliamentary duties? Absolutely so! When Parliament is on recess and there is no business of Parliament or activity either within the precincts of the House or any other part of the jurisdiction including and not limited to activities carried out by MPs in their constituencies, service can be effected without recourse to Mr. Speaker.
Again, if I were to be on my way to Church with the family or to dinner with my Mrs even when Parliament is in session, that would not exclude me from service as I would not be engaged in any activity related to Parliament.
It is instructive to note that on Monday 18th October 2021, when the Hon. Sosu was ‘invited’ during a demonstration with Constituents, Parliament was on recess.
However, Article 118 could be triggered as he was been invited as a witness, not a defendant whilst engaged in a Parliamentary duty in his constituency.
Also, it is important to state that he was scheduled to take part in an extended leadership meeting scheduled for Noon on the same day in Parliament. He would be on his way to Parliament then at the time the invitation was given triggering Article 117.
Let it be known that this is not a new practice. Speaker Ocquaye even insisted that MPs would not go to the station when needed. He asked the Police to come to Parliament and take their statements and interrogate in the Speaker’s Conference Room. The likes of Kwabena Donkor and Co were interrogated there – in the Speaker’s Conference Room – by EOCO.
However, when the case demanded otherwise like in the case of the Hon. Mahama Ayariga, he was released by a certificate of Mr Speaker to the Special Prosecutor when a request was made for prosecution. Kennedy Agyapong was also arrested when the Speaker gave permission. After Ayawaso West Wuogon when the Police invited me ‘to aid investigation’, I was released by the Speaker and went to Police HQ with my Colleagues if you remember.
People have asked why MR Speaker by a letter to the Police refused to release Hon. Sosu. Well, the Police had acted outside the remit of the law initially and the Honourable Member had made a report of same on the floor of the House and Mr SPeaker had referred the conduct of the Police to the Privileges Committee of Parliament.
How anyone would expect the Speaker to release the Honourable Member when he had made a request that had been granted hauling the same Police to the Privileges Committee beats my mind.
The processes are clear and all we are asking for is for the Police to follow the process. No one, not MP or Police, is above the law.
And just as a parting shot, I could not resist it, can the Police treat a Minister that they want to investigate in the way they are treating the Honourable MP? Many people forget that the qualification set out by the Constitution to be a Minister of as set out in Article 78(1) is that you qualify to be an MP! Yet we treat MPs as though they were lesser mortals compared to Ministers and Judges.
I am open to any intellectual counter to my espoused position. Let’s have the right things done at all times, as much as is practicable. Cheers.🦁
By: Sam Nartey George, MP, Ningo-Prampram