Debates of 28 Jan 2009

PRAYERS 10:40 a.m.

Madam Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Hon Members, may I now invite the Member-elect for Assin North, Mr. Kennedy Ohene Agyapong to come forward to take the Oath.
OATHS 10:40 a.m.

Madam Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Hon Member, I congratulate you. You may now take your seat. [Pause.]




Mr. Isaac Asiamah 10:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, talking about communication from the President, or messages from the President, under Standing Order 53 (d), it is important that whatever communication that comes from His Excellency the President to this House is exact and precise.
Madam Speaker, last week or so, we
had communications from the President on his travel to Abuja but the President ended up in Lagos on a visit to a private church.

Deputy Majority Leader (Mr. J. A. Tia): Madam Speaker, there is no wonder at all; they have to engage themselves in doing something. [Interruptions.] This

issue that the Hon Member is talking about is out of order. It is not relevant to the correspondence we are reading today. He lost the opportunity at the time that the correspondence he is referring to was read to the House. Today's correspondence is the issue at stake.

He should address himself to today's correspondence and not to refer to things that have passed. If we were correcting Votes and Proceedings and Official Report and he raised this matter, it would have been welcome. Today, you have just read a correspondence, he must speak to that issue, Madam Speaker; he is out of order.
Madam Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Thank you, hon. Members, let us continue with the correction of the Votes and Proceedings -- [Interruptions.]
Mr. P. A. Dery 10:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I think that I am pointing at an issue the Hon Deputy Majority Leader talked of today. One Hon Member made a statement or a comment and if he is responding,

he should respond appropriately. He said “no wonder they” and I think he should withdraw that. It has a negative connotation; it is quite offensive and I think the Hon Deputy Majority Leader should do us a favour by withdrawing that statement “no wonder they”.
Mr. Tia 10:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I do not think I am out of order; I do not think that I have made any wrong statement because I saw the Hon Member conferring with Leadership on this matter before walking back to his seat to raise the issue; and therefore he cleared it with the Leadership of the Minority side, on behalf of the Minority side, so if I used the words “they on the other side of the House have to engage themselves in doing something”, I am not out of order.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I think it is a matter that has been raised by my Hon Colleague and it is very germane that a correspondence from the Office of the President should be precise and concise.
Madam Speaker, we had communica- tion from the President to the effect that he was departing Ghana to Abuja to transact a specified business. Madam Speaker, it is not for nothing that the Constitution obliges the President to inform the country, through the representatives of this country which is Parliament, about wherever he moves outside this country.

Madam Speaker, it is a specific matter raised by a competent Member of this House. For the Deputy Majority Leader
Madam Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Member, the insinuation that he conferred with you before he spoke, is that the negative insinuation?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, there are two things, that he is aware that he conferred with us and had clearance from us, that is most untrue. And the second thing is that, he says, “they will engage themselves in such manner”. I am paraphrasing what he said by the use of the word “they”, implying that we have indeed taken a position on this. It is not true. So Madam Speaker, there are two things that we urge him as a Colleague and as a brother to withdraw, because he has no evidence to this.
Madam Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Member, they have taken objection to those two things you mentioned and if you are not very hundred per cent sure that they conferred, then I think there will be nothing wrong in withdrawing that statement.
Mr. Tia 10:50 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I will

withdraw if the Hon Asiamah can tell this House now, that this morning he did not walk from his seat to his Leadership here with a copy of the Standing Orders and the Official Report to confer with them.
Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, I thought you said you had withdrawn when you started the statement, because I was saying if you are not a hundred per cent sure that they conferred, and you said you would withdraw. So I thought the matter should rest there and let us carry on.
Mr. Tia 11 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I said that I would withdraw only on the grounds that the hon. Asiamah can tell this House -- [Interruptions.] I just want him to stand on his feet here and tell this House that this morning he did not walk from his seat to his Leadership here with the copy of the Standing Orders and the copy of the Hansard in his hand and thereafter walked back to his seat and to raise this issue.
That is the evidence I have that he conferred with his Leadership and therefore when I said they have conferred and they have decided on this line of action, I do not think I am out of order.
Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon Member, I think you should please withdraw and let us carry on.
Mr. Tia 11 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I would not use the word “I”.
Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
Thank you, Hon Member, shall we carry on.
Mr. Tia 11 a.m.
Madam Speaker, for the respect I have for your Seat, I hope that in future, I would not be given the opportunity to make a statement that my hon. Colleagues opposite consider offensive. It is withdrawn.
Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon Members,

shall we move on, please. Let the matter rest and let us move on.

Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon Members,
we are on the correction of Votes and Proceedings.
Alhaji M. M. Mubarak 11 a.m.
Madam Speaker, page 3, number 106, we have Dery P. Ambrose. Madam Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader is in a singlet. The uniform that he is wearing is not appropriate for this House and therefore he has to walk out. Everybody knows that what he is wearing is a singlet and he is inappropriately dressed -- [Interruptions.]
Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon. Members, we
are correcting the Votes and Proceedings, let us carry on.
Mr. B. A. Dominic Nitiwul 11 a.m.
Madam Speaker, the dress that the Hon Deputy Minority Leader is wearing is a Northern dress. Madam Speaker, I am a Northerner and I can tell you for a fact that it is not a singlet and I know that even though he may have a Northern descent, he is based in Ashanti. I know that dress is not a singlet, it is well suited for Northerners; one can wear it even in executive positions. I can see he is wearing a very similar thing, anyway.
Madam Speaker 11 a.m.
Thank you, Hon Members. Let us move on with the corrections. Any corrections on the Votes and Proceedings?
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu 11 a.m.
Madam Speaker, if you look clearly on pages 6 and 7, I am sure the concern that the hon. Isaac Asiamah raised in respect
of communication from the President is exactly captured as it advertises communication from the Office of the President.

Madam Speaker, His Excellency President Mills attended the African Union Meeting in Abuja which, as part of our quest to deepen democracy in the Region, saw Guinea suspended from the AU for the undemocratic tendencies.

Madam Speaker, it was on his return that he transited in Lagos as a good Christian to worship his God on his way back to Ghana. Madam Speaker, officially and appropriately, he attended a ceremony which he communicated to this House and only did that which is natural, to transit through Lagos on his way from Abuja as a good Christian to worship his God on his way back to Ghana.
Mr. Sulemana Ibun Iddrisu 11:10 a.m.
The issue of correction of names in our document had been resolved. But to my surprise it keeps on recurring in this House. I do not know whether the issue has been brought back to the House or otherwise. I am surprised people still are holding us backwards. And I thought the issue of legislators in this House is to move this House forward in a changed fashion.
So we do not understand why this issue of correction of names keeps on recurring in this House. And I want to find

out whether, Madam Speaker, you have revoked your earlier order that we see the Secretariat on these issues or otherwise.
Madam Speaker 11:10 a.m.
On that day we said we should see them. But today we can go through it. We do not have too much work to do, so it is easier when it is brought to our notice. When I have to rule otherwise, I would say so.
Thank you very much, though.
I think we have finished with this.
An Hon Member 11:10 a.m.
No. [Laughter.]
Mr. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu 11:20 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I think when Parliament began Sitting, there were so many mistakes with our names and on that particular occasion your ruling was such that we should leave all those things and get to them closely and let them do the corrections. I just want to inform the Hon Member that so far as Parliament continues to Sit and they continue to record minutes on daily basis and so far as the committees continue to Sit and minutes would continue to come out, these corrections would continue to come.
The first ruling will not have any bearing on further minutes and corrections that would need to be made on daily basis. So he should take note of that, that these corrections would continue to be a feature of this House.
Madam Speaker 11:20 a.m.
That is exactly what I said, that today is a different day and we are looking at it because we have to look at it.
Ms Beatrice B. Boateng 11:20 a.m.
Speaker, I just want to say that if we always have time, it is healthy enough for us to be given the opportunity to correct
our names and that wise. This enables us to know even the pronunciation of our Hon Colleagues' names. If you bear me out, this morning we had a very serious omission here where the Hon Deputy Majority Leader found it very difficult; it took him about five minutes to mention one name.
  • [The Votes and Proceedings of 27th January, 2009 were corrected.]
  • Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:20 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I represent Suame Constituency. And Madam Speaker, I cannot agree more with you that indeed today is a different day. My Hon Colleague from Asawase who I know does not suffer from cataract is only able to see that the Deputy Minority Leader is in singlet, he cannot see that the others there are in singlet.
    The Hon Member for Bongo, for instance, is in a singlet if we have to agree with him. [Laughter.] Madam Speaker, we are also being told, as he himself is dressed, that a singlet could be worn over a shirt. [Laughter.] But Madam Speaker, that is in a lighter vein.
    STATEMENTS 11:20 a.m.

    Minority Leader (Mr. Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 11:20 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, as you may recall, on Wednesday, January 7, 2008 after you had been elected as the Hon Speaker of this House and after you

    had sworn-in Hon Members, the occasion arose for Leadership to congratulate you on your unanimous approval as the Head of this arm of government.

    When I, the Member of Parliament for Suame, representing the Minority side of the House took my turn to welcome and congratulate you for your election and extend a hand of co-operation to you, I complained openly about the seat on which I was sitting. It was most uncomfortable and it attempted to throw me about anytime I needed to adjust myself.

    Thursday, January 15, 2008 when the Estate Department called for the replacement of my seat in the Chamber it came to be noticed that the seat I had been sitting on in the Chamber all this while had been tampered with. The holding system had been removed and had been replaced with some rather crude lead fabrication.

    Madam Speaker, it was discovered at that time that out of the 230 seats for Members in the House, mine was the only one that had been so tampered with. The Estate Officer insists that his Department had not called for any such “refitting”. Madam Speaker, lead itself is a highly toxic metallic element and when exposed to a physical being it is quite injurious.

    This is a scientific truth and it is quite aside the attributions of those who believe in the occult and other mysterious forces. Madam Speaker, I believe in God and not in occultism or the so-called powers of the mysterious forces of darkness. The suppliers of these seats insist that the “work” done beneath the seat could not have been done overnight. They claimed that it might have taken no less than three days to do the work that had been done on the chair.

    Hon Speaker, it may be instructive to be informed that the following day,

    I must indicate that since then the two seats had been replaced and indeed that of the Majority Leader's in the Chamber has also been replaced.

    The questions arising are legion and include the following:

    1. Who effected these tampering?

    2. Who authorized it, since the Estate Department claim they have not called for any such “work”?

    3. What was the intention of the person or persons who did or caused the tampering to be effected?

    4. When were the tampering effected?

    5. How did the person or persons who effected or caused the tampering to be effected gain access to the Chamber and my office?

    6. How were the seats smuggled out of the Chamber block for not less than three days and how were they brought back? Or how were the two seats substituted, since the latter could also be an option?

    7. Could the installed security cameras in the Chamber help to identify the person(s) who came to do the tampering in both instances?

    8. I am informed on authority that it used to be the practice for a particular person to have personal custody of the keys to this Chamber. What is the practice today?

    9. Hon Speaker, the security of Members of Parliament, of your goodself and the staff of this House is at stake and I will urge that we take a very serious view of these developments. Madam Speaker, I would entreat that the House, with your indulgence, causes an investigation into this very serious matter.

    I thank you Madam for your indulgence.
    Majority Leader (Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin) 11:30 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I believe the relevant issue raised here is the issue of security. Clearly, from the Statement made by my Hon Colleague, it meant the tampering was being done when I was on the seat, since he said it showed signs of deformity on the 7th of January when he took over, and that it could not be done in a day but three days which meant that when I sat on it on the 6th of January it was already tampered with.
    Madam Speaker, it is surprising to all
    of us. I have not had physical view of it, I only almost fell twice on the 6th of January when I sat on it. And I recollect reporting a number of times to the Estates Department to have it changed even before we went on the election campaigns. So Madam Speaker, the critical issue is one of security because when I read it in the Daily Guide, my initial reaction was that it was complete lunacy.
    I could not believe that people could go to the extent of trying to use occultism to try to influence the reasoning power of any of us in this House. It would not happen and it will never happen.
    But Madam Speaker, we need to tighten
    our security. We had before, in place a committee that was chaired by the then Deputy Majority Leader and I think we need to revisit that issue and set up a committee. I believe it is also proper for us to have a look at the Statement that he has made and investigate to at least, establish some basis for us to take off from.
    If the Estates Department and all the stakeholders involved in the manufacture of the chair are given us some reason to suspect we would not just leave it at the stage of suspicion but we should go further and see what happened because I believe the cameras could have captured something and I believe our cameras are in operation and with that evidence we could then move to the Committee that we established on security to take some measures, measures that would prevent future occurrences and even maybe possible attacks on hon. Members of this House. We have often raised it but usually not on the floor of the House.
    It is good that my Hon Colleague has raised it here and I think that we should not just take it as if nothing has happened. We should proceed on it and get to the bottom of the matter and make sure that hon. Members are secure. Not only on the premises of the House but at least, wherever they go, including their residences. This is not to remind hon. Members of the plight that they are facing currently because hon. Members are not yet housed and the matter is being looked on seriously.
    Madam Speaker, I just would thank my
    Hon Colleague for keeping this to himself for sometime. We only got to know it from the media but because some of us take some of these things so easy, we did not think that it was proper to convey our all concerns to the media. Leadership will take up the matter, I believe, and together
    Majority Leader (Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin) 11:30 a.m.

    we will try to iron out the problem and see how best we could remedy whatever might have gone wrong.

    Ms. Cecil ia Dapaah (NPP --

    Bantama): Madam Speaker, I view this occurrence as very serious and very dangerous. There are indeed more questions than answers. I have had the opportunity to view the chair at my Hon Leader's office and I must say I was flabbergasted and it is highly unacceptable that we should leave our homes and our families to come and serve the nation and to be faced with such a danger.

    Madam Speaker, I would entreat all

    of us that we should all pray, if we are Moslems or Christians, before we even sit down on our seats in this House, and I support our Leader's suggestion that a committee should be set up to enquire and investigate this matter.

    Most importantly, Madam Speaker, I will suggest that the investigations should be so thorough that if we even need DNA experts to come in, they should come in and the day these chairs are being dismantled, as many of us who can be available should be allowed to view this so that nobody would stand anywhere and think it is child's play. People have sat on chairs like that and they have become paralyzed.

    People have fallen dead. We thank God that our Leader is a clean man. He is a man who worships his God well. Indeed, if the Majority Leader when he sat on this Chair there was an attempt by the juju powers or whatever powers to throw him off twice, then we thank God that he is also alive.

    Madam Speaker, we should view this seriously. If there is any deliverance to be made the Christians should help us to do this and make sure that this does not happen again and I am speaking from the point of view of a Christian and as a Methodist because we need prayers in our daily lives, in our work in this House
    Mr. E. K. D. Adjaho (NDC -- Avenor/ Ave) 11:40 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I thank you very much. I think the two Leaders of the House have spoken on this matter. Madam Speaker, I think that what we need to do is refer this matter to the Leadership to put in place a committee to look thoroughly into this matter.
    Madam Speaker, only yesterday, an hon. Member from the Majority side drew my attention to something very interesting. He came and sat at his normal place, and all that he knew was that he sat in oil, and his whole back got soiled. I was then invited by a visitor outside, when the hon. Member got there and showed it to me, Madam Speaker, it was really bad. But for the fact that he was wearing an overcoat, it would have been very terrible. I think that we need to put in place, as a matter of urgency, a committee to look into this whole matter of security; indeed not only in the Chamber but the whole place.
    Madam Speaker, in view of the fact that the Leaders have spoken, I do not want to belabour the point; I think that we should set up a committee to go into the matter.
    Madam Speaker, thank you very much.
    Madam Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Members,
    I think both sides and both Leaders are agreed that we need to set up an investigation team, and look more closely at security. This is very important, it concerns all of us and if we are all to contribute, we will never leave this House. But the proper thing as the hon. Minority Leader has suggested, is to set up a committee to look into it -- From what the Majority Leader said, there was a Security Committee before, which is not functioning now.
    We should see to revive it because security in the House and outside the House is important.
    Upon this note, I will request the two to put their heads together with the other Leadership of the House and set up a three-member committee to investigate this particular matter, and to report their findings and also their recommendations about security. In the meantime, maybe I will urge the Leaders to consider setting up the Security Committee quickly to safeguard the security of all of us and all the visitors who come here. Thank you, for your Statement.
    Now we have got to Public Business, Majority Leader, any directions?
    Mr. Bagbin 11:40 a.m.
    Madam Speaker, I think at this time, committees would be sitting, and I want to crave the indulgence of my hon. Colleagues and urge you to allow us to adjourn to tomorrow 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon where we will reconvene in this House.
    Madam Speaker, I beg to move.
    Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:40 a.m.
    Speaker, before seconding the motion, I think I have the authority of the Chairman of the Appointments Committee to announce that in view of the new nominations that
    have come, the Appointments Committee may be meeting immediately upon adjournment. Madam Speaker, I beg to second the motion.
    Question put and motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 11:40 a.m.