THE Speaker of Parliament, Mr Peter Ala Adjetey, has referred the trial of Mr Dan Abodakpi, NDC member for Keta, to the Committee of Privileges.
He gave the committee two weeks to complete its work. This follows a complaint of contempt of Parliament made by Mr Abodakpi in Parliament yesterday.
Mr Abodakpi maintained that following indications by the presiding Judge, Mr Justice S.T Farkye to vary the earlier decision on the issue of his appearance in court on Mondays to either twice or thrice in a week starting from next week, his attendance at court will greatly obstruct or impede the discharge of his duties as an MP since he will be unable to attend parliamentary sittings on those days.
This situation, he said, contravenes sections of the Constitution and the Standing Orders of Parliament, hence his decision to submit a complaint to the House.
Mr Abodakpi is being tried with Mr Victor Selormey, former Deputy Minister of Finance by the Fast Track High Court on seven counts of conspiracy to commit crime, defrauding by false pretences and wilfully causing a loss of ¢2.73 billion to the state.
They have denied all the charges and the court, presided over by Mr Justice S. T. Farkye, an Appeal Court judge sitting as an additional High Court judge, has granted them self-recognisance bail in the sum of ¢3 billion each. Expatiating on the case,he said on October 13, he received a summons letter to appear before the court on Monday October 14.
He said at the hearing, Mr Justice Farkye granted his request that the case be heard only on Mondays. However, he said, at the last sitting on November 25, the judge, following the promptings of the Director of Public Prosecutions, gave indications to vary the earlier decision on the issue of his attendance to court on only Mondays to either twice or thrice a week starting from next week.
He said he did not lodge a complaint earlier because the sitting of the court on Mondays did not greatly obstruct or impede the performance of his duties as an MP and he could cope with it.
However, he said, if the judge decides to vary the sitting to twice or thrice a week, his appearance in court will greatly obstruct or impede the discharge of his duties as an MP since he will be prevented from attending parliamentary sittings on those days. He said under the circumstances, he was raising the matter in the House under Article 122 of the Constitution and Standing Order 28.
He explained that the article and standing order says: “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 affronts the dignity of Parliament or which tends either directly or indirectly to produce such a result shall be contempt of Parliament.”
The member pointed out that the issue of contempt being raised is not to avoid any responsibility. He said the time has come to clarify the issue taking the Article and other issue, of the standing orders of the House into consideration.
Mr Abodakpi suggested that the court should be informed to continue with the sittings only on Mondays until the determination of the matter by the House, adding, “I am fully prepared to submit myself for trial any day when the House goes on recess.”
In his brief remark, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, said the court has not yet taken a decision on the issue raised by the member and that the case will be heard by the court on Monday. The Speaker said once a complaint has been made, he is compelled under the standing orders to refer it to the Committee of Privileges, stressing that pending the decision of the House, nothing should be done to obstruct the issue.