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21.07.2005 General News

Ministers Under Fire!

Ministers Under Fire!

... Students condemn Nana Seinti's conduct ... Journalists boycott Ayikoi Otoo Accra, July 21, GNA - Journalists on Thursday boycotted coverage of a visit of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney - General, Mr Ayikoi Otoo to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in Accra because he had not arrived for the assignment two hours after the scheduled time. All 13 disappointed journalists from both State and private media houses, together with a freelance journalist, walked out of the chamber at about 1230 hours. Invitation to the coverage had indicated the visit was scheduled for 1000 hours. The journalists protested vehemently for being told by an SFO official that the Minister was holding private discussions with senior officials of the SFO and that his delegation would "soon" be in at the chamber of the Old Parliament House for general discussions, when, indeed, he was actually not there. The journalists also rejected pleas of Ms Evelyn Bekoe, Public Relations Officer of the SFO, to wait further, as the Minister was said to be attending a funeral and would be in at 1130 hours. Neither the promise of Ms Bekoe to take the journalists upstairs to placate them with soft drinks worked. They registered their names and those of their press houses and left the Old Parliament House and promised to return if the Minister arrived and they were called back. S-Poly students condemn Minister's conduct Sunyani (B/A) July 21, GNA - The Sunyani Polytechnic branch of the Tertiary Education Institutions Network (TEIN) of National Democratic Congress (NDC) has condemned alleged "blatant contempt" exhibited by Nana Kwadwo Seinti, Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister at the fourth forum on the People's Representation Amendment and Whistle Blowers Bills in Sunyani on July 15 this year. In a statement signed by Baba Ayisha, branch president, the students criticized the "harsh and arrogant manner" in which the Regional Minister snatched a microphone from Mr. Kwame Prempeh, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and shut down a questioner.

The questioner, Mr. Mustapha Haji wanted to know if by approving the People's Representation Bill, Ghanaian children abroad would enjoy access to Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education in those countries as well.

The students alleged the Minister then retorted: "Ye baa aha se yebe deal with serious issues, na y'amba aha se yebe tie nkwasiasem ene jokings", literally translated "We came here to discuss sensible issues not to crack jokes and stupidity".

"The action of the Regional Minister, if not condemned by the Committee, is tantamount to gross contempt of Parliament and only seeks to vindicate the Minority Leader's claim of perceived placement of the Legislature under the tutelage of the Executive, a claim the Majority Leader vehemently denies".

The statement called on the Parliamentary Committee to protect the dignity of the "august House" by publicly sanctioning the Regional Minister for his misconduct to serve as a deterrent to other agents of the Executive.

It expressed the hope that anything short of sanctions for such action of contempt would, in future not only set a bad and undemocratic precedence, undermined the reputation and authority of Parliament but also have the potential of fuelling chaotic reactions against future recurrence.

On the People's Representation and Amendment Bill, the statement cautioned that as stakeholders of the country's fledging democracy, "we are battle ready to fiercely resist any attempt by any wing of government that will take undue advantage of the people's mandate to put their parochial will down the throat of the people of Ghana."