Parliamentary Research group, Odekro has said Parliament will not be meting out enough punitive measure against maverick Member of Parliament for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyapong if it decides to suspend him for the rest of the year’s sitting without making financial deduction from his salary.
The Privileges Committee chaired by the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu, has recommended to the plenary to reprimand or suspend the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Assin Central, Hon. Kennedy Ohene Agyapong for the rest of “this Session”.
The Committee arrived at this decision after finding Mr. Agyapong to have been in contempt of Parliament for the remarks he made that “Parliament is cheap” and “Parliament is useless”.
Prior to arriving at this final decision, the Committee was split into two as to which sanction to recommend to the plenary to for consideration.
“The Committee noted the apology rendered by the Member and therefore did not consider expulsion as a sanction to be imposed. The Committee was however in favour of either a reprimand or a suspension. After extensive deliberations, the Committee put the two options to a vote. Out of a total membership of thirty-one (31), twenty (20) Members were present at the time of the voting. Ten (10) Members voted in favour of reprimand as a sanction and ten (10) Members voted in favour of suspension as a sanction. In view of the split ballot, the Committee recommends to the House to determine which of the two sanctions to be imposed on the Hon. Ken Ohene Agyapong”, the report of the Privileges Committee on the breach of privilege and contemptuous comments allegedly made by Hon. Member for Assin Central constituency, Mr. Ken Ohene Agyapong, in part read.
Section 35 of the Parliament Act, 1965 (Act 300) provides that “Where a Member of Parliament is found by Parliament to be guilty of contempt of Parliament; Parliament may direct that the Member be reprimanded in the Member’s place by the Speaker”.
Section 36(1), (2) (a) and (b) of the Act also provide that:
“Where a Member is found by Parliament to be guilty to be guilty of contempt of Parliament, Parliament may suspend the Member from the service of Parliament for a period not exceeding nine months, whether or not that period extends beyond the end of the Session.
Where a Member is suspended from the service of Parliament, the Member (a) shall forthwith leave the precincts of Parliament and shall not enter them again while the suspension continues; (b) shall forfeit the allowances to which the Member would otherwise be entitled as a Member in respect of the period of suspension”.
But the Head of Research at Odekro, Ernest Armah believes the sanctions may not be deterrent enough.
“From where we’re standing we at Odekro believe that to a large extent the sanction is inconsequential. Because checking the records Mr Ken Ohene Agyapong has not been very punctual on the floor of Parliament and he hardly participates in Parliamentary activities. He has been consistently absent from Parliamentary proceedings from the fifth Parliament to the current one.
“So this decision we think is not biting enough unless they’re saying that his suspension is going to attract some financial deduction from his salary and benefit as a Member of Parliament that would be understandable and that will make more sense. But just suspending him from this session of Parliament is like telling a truant student to stop coming to school. It will not amount to anything.”