A private legal practitioner, Nii Kpakpo Samoah Addo says the High Court may have been too rash in ordering the Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga to avail himself for charges brought against him by the Special Prosecutor without consulting the legislature.
He argued on The Big Issue that Parliament was a “master of its own rules” and that the court “should have taken a cue from Parliament.”
Mr. Samoah Addo suggested that the court could have at least passed on the case to the Supreme Court instead of ruling on the matter which has sparked debate over the immunity of Members of Parliament (MPs).
“Perhaps the court may have been minded when that issue came up to have stayed proceedings and referred that issue to the Supreme Court for purposes of dealing with whether the said letter or ruling by the Speaker gave Mr. Ayariga the right not to attend court on the days when Parliament was sitting,” he said.
Shortly after the court ruling last Friday, the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, ruled that Mr. Ayariga could only honor court invitations when he is not undertaking any parliamentary activity.
The Speaker also wrote to the court urging it to respect Mr. Ayariga’s immunity per Article 117, 118 (1) and 122 of the constitution.
Mr. Ayariga has been arraigned by the state over allegations of procurement breaches in the purchase of some ambulances for his constituency as well as personal cars for himself.
Mr. Samoah Addo recalled the handling of the prosecution of Dan Abodakpi in 2007, where the court sittings were on Mondays when Parliament did not sit.
“The then Speaker said Mr. Abodakpi had to attend Parliament, on days that the lawmaking body was sitting, [and that] he could not appear before the court [on those days].”
Mr. Samoah Addo was generally uncomfortable with any court ruling on the matter of Mr. Ayariga’s appearances.
“I think Parliament has tried to be flexible and also given a cue but unfortunately, it seems as if the court did not take the cue, made its own decision and now you could say there is the need now for the final arbiter in our matter to give a definite ruling.”
He said there was no need for a definite ruling because “it may give rise to some friction” and “may not inure to the benefit of the constitution.”
Mr. Ayariga has said he intends to go to the Supreme Court to seek an interpretation of the constitution of the privileges of MPs.