The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has reiterated that the police had no powers to arrest the Madina MP, Francis-Xavier Sosu, during a demonstration in his constituency a few weeks ago.
Speaking at the Speaker’s Breakfast Forum in Kumasi on Monday (15 November), Bagbin said the National Democratic Congress (NDC) lawmaker was carrying out his duties as a legislator and the attempt to arrest him before addressing his people was an obstruction.
“There is an increase in public discourse in recent times about the privileges and immunities of MPs, officers of Parliament, and Parliament itself. It is not new,” Bagbin said.
He added: “Since I became an MP, it has been coming up a number of times, and even now, some of these things come to my desk, and we have processed a number of them well. We are all aware that a number of MPs are before the court, and they are being prosecuted. So, there is nobody saying, MPs or Parliament are above the law.”
“But this particular instance before us involving the MP for Madina, I can put my neck on it, that you have no such powers after he had gone through all the processes with you, and then you send your contingent to arrest him while he was talking to his people. That is obstruction and how can that be said that the Speaker is preventing the MP to be arrested. That can not be tolerated,” Bagbin added.
Sosu was due to appear in court last week but the case was adjourned to 16 November because he was on “Parliamentary duty outside the Ghanaian jurisdiction.”
The Magistrate, Oheneba Kufuor, at the Kaneshie District Court adjourned the case after police prosecutors informed the court that they have received a letter from the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, about the lawmaker’s assignment abroad.
ASP Sylvester Asare who represented the police asked for the adjournment to a suitable date within which time the Madina lawmaker would have returned to Ghana.
The police have filed charges against the Madina MP, Francis-Xavier Sosu, over “unlawful road blockade and destruction of public property”.
“The police have obtained criminal summons and have been duly served for him [Sosu] to appear in court on 8 November,” the director general of the Ghana Police Service, ACP Kwesi Ofori, told the media on Wednesday (3 November 2021).
He said the National Democratic Congress (NDC) lawmaker has been charged with “obstructing public highway and causing damage to public property.”
The police are after the legislator over his alleged involvement in a protest in his constituency which led to an “unlawful road blockade and destruction of public property”.
The Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Ghana Police Service wrote to the Speaker on Wednesday (27 October 2021) requesting the release of the MP.
However, in a response, issued through the deputy director of legal services, Nana Tawiah Okyir, the Speaker said: “I am directed by the Rt Hon Speaker to inform you that proceedings of the 3rd Meeting of the 1st Session of the 8th Parliament commenced on Tuesday 26 October 2021 and having regard to the limitations of Articles 117 and 118 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic, he is unable to release the Member of Parliament as requested in your letter.”
Matter of privileges committee
The Speaker said he had already referred the case to the privileges committee of Parliament to probe “breach of parliamentary privilege and contempt by ACP Isaac Kojo Asante and ACP Eric Winful of the Accra Regional Police Command and the Adenta Divisional Command respectively”.
In a statement on Sunday (31 October), the police said: “The MP, Francis-Xavier Sosu, was invited on the day of the protest to assist the police for his alleged involvement in the unlawful blockade of a road and the destruction of public property but he declined the invitation.
“He declined further invitations, citing parliamentary privilege.
“Three other persons have been interrogated on this matter and we shall continue to use every legal means to interrogate all other suspects including the Honourable MP for Madina,” the statement added.
Denial of arrest
The police also denied going to the MP’s church to effect his arrest last Sunday.
“Stories circulating that some police personnel had been dispatched to arrest the MP at a church today Sunday (31 October 2021) are untrue,” said the statement, signed by ACP Kwesi Ofori on behalf of the Police Service.
“Any plain-clothed police personnel found on the premises of the church may have been there for intelligence purposes and not to effect an arrest.”