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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Contentious STX debate set to go on despite court case

Atta Akyea, MP for Abuakwa South
Atta Akyea, MP for Abuakwa South
The controversy over the STX deal is set to deepen as the Majority and Minority sides of Parliament have indicated their preparedness to hold fast onto their opposing stance.

While the Majority is bent on laying the bill before the House for debate and possible approval, the Minority are arguing that in deference to a court process initiated by the CPP Youth Organiser, James Kobina Bomfeh, debate on the deal should be deferred.

The NPP Member of Parliament for Abuakwa South, Atta Akyea told Joy FM’s Parliamentary Correspondent, Sammy Darko, that “We are not blocking [the] debate, we are the most democratic bunch of people you can find. What is happening now is that everybody has become aware of the Supreme Court action at the instance of a citizen of Ghana and it is raising serious concerns about the fact that the Off-taker agreement has not been laid, the Joint-Venture Agreement has not been laid, and both have not been approved. Because these are an integral part of the STX agreement before Parliament, there is no way we should go ahead because that will amount to unconstitutionality.”

Mr Atta Akyea rejected suggestions that the House has not been served with the writ of summons from the Supreme Court, insisting that according to the records of the House, the Speaker of Parliament is aware of the processes.

NDC Member of Parliament for Nabdam, Mr Moses Asaga said the writ notwithstanding, the debate will go on. “There have been instances where issues were in court and we were still able to debate and move motions and carried them for the day so this is not new at all,” he said.

But Mr Atta Akyea, a legal practitioner disagreed. He said, “I wouldn’t understand anybody asserting the position that Parliament should undermine what is before the Supreme Court. We are the law-makers, how can be lawless on [certain] matters?

Asked why the Minority was shifting focus from the substance of the issue, he said, “we are ready, 100 per cent ready for the real issues but are we going to subvert the Supreme Court’s authority on the matter?

Responding, Mr Asaga said, “The courts have their powers and legislature have [our] powers. …we both have different functions so if there is a function that comes to Parliament, we will deal with it as it is and if they want to get an injunction, they can go to the court and the court will [give] its ruling.”

While the issue was yet to be tabled for debate in the House, the debate had started on Joy FM.

But it was even more contentious on the floor of the house. A member of the House has suggested that the matter be referred to the Privileges Committee of Parliament but the First Deputy Speaker Doe Adjaho, sitting in for the Speaker, flatly rejected the suggestion. “I have declined the invitation to refer this matter to the Privileges Committee,” he ruled.

The ruling brought on his feat, the 2nd Deputy Speaker and MP for Dome Kwabenya, Prof. Mike Ocquaye, who contended the Parliament of Ghana was sovereign and that the House was subject to the Supreme law of the land, the Constitution.

“It is only the Supreme Court which is given that power under Article 127 following, to interpret the law, and in fact the capacity to set aside and declare unconstitutional whatever Parliament does.”

He will not listen to the Speaker’s appeals, “honourable member, honourable Speaker.”

Eventually sanity prevailed with the Speaker insisting that the issue of the STX deal had not been tabled for debate and that there was no need to jump the gun.

Story by Malik Abass Daabu/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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