Privileges Committee recommends suspension/reprimand of Kennedy Agyapong
The Privileges Committee of Parliament has established contempt of Parliament against Mr Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, the MP for Assin Central, and recommended that he should be suspended for the rest of the current Session or be reprimanded.
“The Committee has carefully considered the matter in the light of the totality of the evidence gathered and in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, the Standing Orders and other relevant enactments in accordance and concluded that the Member for Assin Central, Mr Kennedy Ohene Agyapong is indeed contempt of Parliament for the remarks he made that “Parliament is cheap’’ and “Parliament is useless”, a report of the Committee of Privileges, has said.
The Report, signed by Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Chairman of the Committee of Privileges noted the apology rendered by Mr Agyapong.
It therefore did not consider expulsion as a sanction to be imposed; and the Committee was however in favour of either a reprimand or suspension.
“After extensive deliberations, the Committee put the two options to a vote,” the Reports said, adding,”out of a total membership of thirty-one (31), twenty (20) Members were present at the time of voting. Ten (10) Members voted in favour of reprimand as a sanction and ten (10) Members voted in favour of suspension as sanction.
“In view of the split ballot, the Committee recommends to the House to determine which of the two sanctions to be imposed on Mr Kennedy Agyapong.”
The recommendations followed an enquiry directed by Speaker Prof Aaron Michael Oquaye, when Alhaji Muntaka Mohammed-Mubarak, MP for Asawase drew the attention of the House to an alleged disparaging remarks made by Mr Agyapong on Social Media to the effect that the “House is useless and cheap and that if the House was not useless, it would not have Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu as its Majority Leader.
The Committee held series of meetings and two public hearings, and evidence was taken from the complainant, who also submitted to the Committee the relevant documents on the alleged contemptuous comments by the respondent, and copies of all the relevant documents were also made available to the respondent.
At the first public hearing, Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin, counsel for the respondent raised a preliminary legal objection and brought the attention of the Committee that three Members of the Committee- Cynthia Morrison, Naana Eyiah and Samuel Nsow- Djan had applied to recuse themselves from further proceedings on the matter, pursuant to the Standing Order 164(4) of the House.
In the light of the request, the Committee ended public hearing and met in-camera to deliberate on whether or not the request by the three Members be accepted.
The Committee accepted the request by the three Members to disqualify themselves from any further proceedings by the Committee.
By a memorandum dated July 3, 2018, the Committee communicated its decision to the Speaker, and according Mr Yaw Buaben, Mr Yaw Afful and Nanan Akua Owusu Afriyie, all Members of Parliament were designated to act as Members of the Committee for the purpose of the proceedings with respect to the investigations of before the Committee.
According to the Report, the Committee held a second public hearing on Monday, July 23, 2018; and the video in which the alleged contemptuous comments were made played to the Respondent.
The Chairman informed the Respondent that the Committee wanted him to address the issue of “Parliament is cheap” and “Useless Parliament”.
Mr Agyapong, according to the Report admitted that he uttered the word, “Parliament aye fo” in Twi meaning “Parliament is cheap” but denied he said “Parliament aye foo” meaning “Useless Parliament.”
“He explained that he made the statement “Parliament is cheap “out of extreme anger and therefore apologised for describing Parliament as cheap,” the Report said.
The Committee determined that the comments by Mr Agyapong was an affront to the dignity of Parliament and he was therefore guilty of contempt of Parliament in terms of Article 122 of the Constitution and Order 28 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament.