On Monday, Parliamentary proceedings became engulfed in controversy after it was revealed that Sarah Adwoa Safo, the MP for Dome-Kwabenya, had been present in the House on Friday.
Mohammed Adamu Ramadan, an Adenta MP, noticed the strange occurrence and expressed his worry about why Ms. Safo was listed as present in the votes and procedures for last Friday.
“Just out of curiosity, page 7, number 225, Sarah Adwoa Safo has been listed as present,” Mr. Adamu Ramadan stated on the House floor on Monday. I’m not sure if the table office is following the Speaker’s directive that you don’t need to be physically present in the Chamber to be caught. I’m not sure if Adwoa Safo has returned to this jurisdiction.”
Mr. Ramadan’s claim was based on the fact that Adwoa Safo was not present in the chamber.
“The table office will verify and make appropriate modifications,” stated Mr. Joseph Osei-Owusu, the presiding Speaker.
The legislators were deeply divided about the exact meaning of Speaker Alban Bagbin’s earlier rule that MPs might be deemed present provided they are within Parliament’s gates.
Members of Parliament have described the judgement as troublesome while discussing it.
Emmanuel Bedzra, the MP for Ho West, highlighted that it is customary for MPs to sign as soon as they enter the chamber, leading to the finding that an MP cannot be considered absent as long as he or she is within the Parliamentary boundaries.
He urged the House to put an end to the issue, saying that the existing state of affairs would encourage MPs to avoid the chamber.
“It has been Speaker upon Speaker’s conclusion that the first thing you should do when you come to the chamber is sign, and you, Speaker (Joseph Osei-Owusu), have said the same thing that anyone who comes to this chamber for a Committee meeting should not be recorded as being in attendance in the Chamber.”
“So, Mr. Speaker (Joseph Osei-Owusu), I believe this House must make a decision on this matter for a new ruling that you can be anywhere within the premises and be counted as coming to Parliament or being in the Chamber, Mr. Speaker (Joseph Osei-Owusu), I believe this House must make a decision on this matter.” Otherwise, we may all stay in our offices and claim to be in Parliament,” Mr. Bedzra explained.
However, Muntaka Mubarak, an Asawase MP, indicated in his submission that Speaker Bagbin stated that one may only be captured as present when in the chamber.
“I don’t believe the Speaker’s ruling was that members might be present or absent from the floor.” He stated that signing is not a must. It is for you to do it on the floor so that it can be captured, but he did not say you don’t have to be in the chamber, as we all know.”