Professor Alex Dodoo apologises to Parliament
Professor Alex Dodoo, Pharmacologist, and Lecturer at the School of Medicine and Dentistry of the University of Ghana, on Tuesday apologised to Parliament for describing members as ignorant of the Ebola vaccine trials.
The witness appeared in person before the Privileges Committee in Accra, and through his lawyer, Yoni Kulendi, offered an unreserved, unconditional and irrevocable apology to the legislators who were crossed with him for his comments.
“I can’t say enough; on behalf of Prof Dodoo, I render an unconditional, irrevocable apology to the institution or individuals by the comments Prof Dodoo made,” Mr Kulendi said.
Prof Dodoo was hauled before the Committee to defend comments he made on an Accra radio station that the Members of Parliament (MPs) who were discussing the proposed Ebola Vaccine Trial in Hohoe in the Volta Region, on the floor of the House, were ignorant of what they were discussing.
The acclaimed scientist had in an interview last month with that medium urged Parliamentarians to apologise to Ghanaians for their uninformed and ignorant assertions about the Ebola vaccines trial.
Prof Dodoo had described as embarrassing questions the MPs were asking, calling the questions “elementary questions” and querying whether the trial had been done on mice and chimpanzees when they are expected to know that the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has been mandated by the same Parliament to undertake such trials.
Those comments followed the MPs worry on lack of adequate sensitisation and education on the Ebola Vaccine Trial to the residents of Hohoe, forcing the Health Minister, Alex Segbefia, to suspend the process.
Both sides of the House are in support of a motion filed by Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah, MP for Ho West, who held the view that Prof Dodoo’s comments “compromised the integrity and sanctity of Parliament” and so must be made to explain himself.
According to the Standing Orders of Parliament, a person could face the privileges committee for “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”.
It continues that, “in all cases of proceedings where complaints are made of a breach of privilege or contempt of Parliament, Mr. Speaker may direct that the matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges.
Mr Kulendi told the Committee, that “Professor Dodoo, as a citizen, holds this House in the highest of esteem. Therefore Mr Chairman, Prof Dodoo could not and did not insult this House.”
“Mr Chairman, he will not do that, it is not even compatible with his status, his enlightenment, his character and even the kind of work he does to bring himself to the point that he can say something that is an affront or demeaning of this House.”
The FDA in June gave an international pharmaceutical company approval to commence Ebola vaccines trial in Ghana.
The vaccine trial was scheduled to start in Hohoe, but a number of civil society organisations including the Ghana Academy of Arts and Science, the Volta regional branch of the National Democratic Congress and some residents, kicked against the exercise.
The trial was suspended following the public uproar and an order from Parliament.
The Ho West MP, Emmanuel Kwesi Bedzra, on behalf of the Volta Caucus drew Parliaments attention to the trial and called for immediate suspension.
Other MPs asked whether the vaccine had been tried on mice and chimpanzees, and said the trials should rather be conducted in countries where the disease was prevalent.
But Prof Dodoo in a reaction, said the MPs needed to apologise to Ghanaians for their ‘ignorant’ statements.
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Bedzra testifying before Parliaments Privileges Committee stated that he did not engage the FDA and the Ministry of Health before demanding for the suspension of the Ebola vaccine trial.
Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Bernice Heloo, who is also the MP for Hohoe, and Volta Regional Minister Helen Adjoa Ntoso, and Mr Francis Ankrah, Secretary to the Science Section of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, also testified in connection with the appearance.