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05.11.2004 General News

"Crusading Guide" Editor to appear before Parliament

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Accra, Nov. 5, GNA- The Editor of the "Crusading Guide" is to appear before the Privileges Committee of Parliament over a publication in the paper concerning a matter being investigated by the Public Account Committee (PAC) of the house.

Mr Jacob Arthur, Vice Chairman of PAC, brought the publication to the attention of the Speaker, Mr Peter Ala Adjetey, at the commencement of public business on Friday.

The Speaker then ruled that the matter be referred to the Privileges Committee.

The Vice Chairman of the Committee told the House that the paper had recently reported that NDC Members on the Public Accounts Committee were rushing through with investigations being conducted by the committee on an alleged financial impropriety levelled against Mr Alban Bagbin, the Minority Leader.

Parliament recently referred the matter involving the alleged payment of some unauthorized expenses, made by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) on behalf of the Minority Leader during his term of office as a board member.

According to the Vice Chairman, although PAC was still investigating the matter, the Crusading Guide has arrived at a conclusion that the Minority Leader was guilty.

Mr Arthur said the publications had also sought to imply that NDC members of PAC were rushing through the investigations with the aim of absolving their leader of any blame.

"The news item as reported by the paper appears that the committee has found the Minority Leader guilty although PAC has not concluded its investigations into the matter".

The Vice Chairman of the Committee said PAC was not happy with the publication and therefore, it wanted the editor to appear before the privileges committee and explain it.

Mr Hackman Owusu Agyemang, Interior Minister, who caught the speaker's eye, said the matter would go through a long process if the matter referred to the Privileges committee.

He said the editor should instead appear before PAC to explain. The Speaker, however, said it would be pre-judging the case by presuming that the editor was guilty and needed to come before the committee to apologise.

Guided by the standing Orders of the House, the Speaker said the proper thing to do was to allow the case to go before the Privileges committee where the editor could have the chance to justify his conduct. Felix Owusu-Adjapong, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, said notwithstanding the standing orders of the House, parliament should resort to an alternative form of resolving the matter as previously agreed upon by the leadership of the house.

He said the house had agreed that matters involving the media should be resolved by the leadership rather than allowing such cases to go before the privileges committee.

Alhaji Abukari Sumani NDC Choggu/Tishigu was however of the view that the Speaker's ruling that the case be referred to the privileges committee was "excellent and that it should be allowed to stand". Earlier, the Speaker expressed worry that the Finance Committee was being overburden with so much work while other committees had very little to do.

He said there were so many loan agreements being handled by the committee. He therefore, charged the leadership of the House to consider a way out to ensure that work was efficiently handled.

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