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22.02.2006 General News

Witness clashes with Privileges Committee

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Accra, Feb. 22, GNA - There was altercation on Wednesday between Mr Freddie Blay, Chairman of the Privileges Committee of Parliament and Mr Tony Lithur, a witness who appeared before the Committee to give evidence in respect of a writ served on the Speaker, Mr Ebenezer Sakyi Hughes and the Attorney-General.

Mr Blay at one point said he would call in the Security to drive out Mr Lithur from the Speaker's Conference room, where the Committee was meeting, for refusing to obey the ruling of the Chair.

It all began when the Committee sat to consider a matter involving a "veiled threat of contempt of court" against the Speaker contained in a writ filed at the High Court by Mr Lithur, Counsel for Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, NDC-Avenor, who had sought the intervention of the court to prevent the Speaker and Attorney-General from proceedings with the passage of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill (ROBAP). Mr Lithur took the witness seat before being formally invited by the Chairman of the Privileges Committee to do so and was asked by Mr Blay, who is First Deputy Speaker, to vacate the seat to allow Mr Emmanuel Botchway Boadi, Registrar of the Fast Track High Court, to appear as the first witness.

Mr Lithur did not heed to the instructions from the Chair and sought to rather raise some procedural issues.

Mr Blay insisted that Mr Lithur should give way to Mr Boadi as the first witness resulting in very heated and loud verbal exchanges. "Have respect for this Committee. Do you want us to ask the security to ask you out? This Committee has the powers of a high court. I will not listen to you," Mr Blay shouted at Mr Lithur, who questioned why the Chair was showing such hostility.

Later, when Mr Lithur, appeared before the Committee as the second witness, he introduced Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, NDC-Lawra/Nandom, as his counsel.

Dr Kunbuor then sought the indulgence of the Committee and requested that the evidence of the first witness, Mr Boadi be made available to him to enable him to cross examine the witness should the need arise since the matter before the Committee had serious legal implications. Mr Blay acceded to the request and promised that a summary of the evidence of Mr Boadi would be made available to him before Friday when the Committee resumes its sitting on the matter.

Mr Doe Adjaho, on January 31, 2006 filed a writ through his counsel against the Speaker and Attorney General on representation Of the People Amendment Bill (ROPAB0.

A copy of the writ was served on the Speaker, which prompted Mr Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah, Deputy Attorney-General, to ask that the matter be referred to the Privileges Committee to determine the conduct of Mr Doe Adjaho.

Mr Doe Adjaho also went ahead on February 3, to file a motion at the high court to prevent Parliament from proceeding with the bill but the court dismissed the motion.

As a result of these developments and the ROPAB, the NDC Minority in Parliament have since February 9, 2006 embarked on an indefinite boycott of Parliamentary business.