Parliament summons Blakk Rasta for contemptuous comment

Blakk Ratsa
Blakk Ratsa

Reggae musician and radio presenter; Blakk Rasta, has been summoned to appear before the Privileges Committee of Parliament for saying that 80 per cent of members of parliament smoked marijuana.

Speaker of Parliament Edward Korbly Doe Adjaho issued the summons on Thursday, at the sitting of the House, in Accra.

The attention of the Speaker, was drawn by Mr Henric David Yeboah, MP for Afigya Sekyere East, to  a media report.

Blakk Rasta was quoted as saying: ” There are about 80 per cent of parliamentarians who smoke wee,  so why do people think those who smoke marijuana go mad. There are a lot of people in Parliament who smoke but will want to remain unknown. People who smoke marijuana are presidents so if your President is smoking marijuana, how can you say someone will get mad.”

The Speaker, the Majority Leader; Mr Alban Bagbin, and the Deputy Minority Leader Mr Dominic Nitiwul,  expressed reservations about the statement made by the presenter

Mr Adjaho, in making the order, relied on articles 122 and 123 of the 1992 Constitution and Standing Order 30 (2) of Parliament.

Article 122 of the 1992 Constitution states: “An act or omission which obstructs or impedes Parliament in the performance of its functions or which obstructs or impedes a member or officer of Parliament in the discharge of his duties , or which affronts the dignity of Parliament or which tends either directly or indirectly to produce the result is contempt of Parliament.”

Article 123 states: ” Where an act or omission which constitutes contempt of Parliament is an offence under the criminal law, the exercise by Parliament of the power to punish for contempt shall not be a bar to the proceedings under the criminal law.”

Standing Order 30 ( 2 ) describes Contempt of Parliament as “Any act or omission which affronts the dignity of Parliament or which tends either directly, or indirectly to bring the name of Parliament into disrepute. ”

Mr Adjaho directed: ” This is a proper and fit case to refer to the Privileges Committee. I am, therefore, giving the committee two weeks to submit their report to the House. In the deliberations of their work, they should take Article 123 into account. Therefore, the publication is referred to them and in that publication, the person whose name has been mentioned and the paper and radio station referred accordingly.”

The order comes barely a few days that Professor Alex Dodoo, a lecturer of the School of Medicine and Dentistry of the University of Ghana, was summoned to appear before the Privileges Committee, for describing Members of the House as being “ignorant” about Ebola vaccine trials

The House considered the description as contemptuous.

Both Sides of the House in strong terms expressed their displeasure at the comment, and the Majority Leader Mr Bagbin said it is important Parliament start applying the rules.

“The reluctance of the House to apply the rules is fuelling indiscipline in the society,” Mr Bagbin said, adding with advent of social media, freedoms appears to be unlimited and democracy is interpreted to mean irresponsibility.

“If the laws are not applied, the country risk sliding back into anarchy,” the Majority Leader said, and pointed out that the leniency of the Government towards applying rules and cracking the whip is resulting in chaos.

He described Parliament as a decent House where more than 90 per cent of members do not even smoke cigarettes and said the comments alleged to have been made by Blakk Rasta are not only contemptuous of the House but also has criminal implications.

Mr Bagbin said compared to the Judiciary, Parliament has been lenient and reluctant to cite people for contempt because the institution believes that it would take a long time for Ghanaians to understand its functions and importance.

However, this time the statements allegedly made are too contemptuous to be glossed over.

Mr Nitiwul said if his constituents think he is a wee smoker, they would not vote for him.

He explained that smoking wee is a criminal offence for which one could be jailed.

“Blakk Rasta needs to state how he arrived at that conclusion.

“This House has enormous powers.  People think you can just insult or denigrate Parliament and go scot free. For once this House should bite,” he said.

He called for extensive public education on what constitutes contempt of Parliament.

Source: GNA

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