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27.02.2006 General News

Tony Lithur petitions CHRAJ

By GNA

Accra, Feb. 27, GNA - Mr Tony Lithur, Counsel for Mr Edward K. Doe Adjaho, Member of Parliament for Avenor, on Monday lodged a complaint against the conduct of the First Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Committee of Privileges, of Parliament Mr Freddie Blay at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

According to Mr Lithur the First Deputy Speaker had violated Chapter 24 of the 1992 Constitution as stipulated under Article 287, which provides as follows: "A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts or is likely to conflict with the performance of the functions of his office."

In a petition to the Acting Commissioner of CHRAJ and copied to the Chairman Committee on Privileges, Parliament House; the Speaker of Parliament and the Clerk of Parliament and made available to the Ghana News Agency said public offices to which the Article applied included; "The Speaker, The Deputy Speaker and a Member of Parliament (Article 286(5)(c).

The petition said the Chairman of the Committee falls within these provisions.

It said in the circumstances where the objection had been raised and overruled by the Committee they were entitled under Article 287 of the Constitution to refer the matter to CHRAJ for determination whether or not he should continue to chair the Committee.

"Relying on Article 287 of the Constitution, we hereby refer the matter to you for investigation and determination," Mr Lithur stated. On January 30, 2006, Mr Lithur's law firm, "Lithur Brew & Company," filed a suit at the Fast Track High Court, Accra upon the instructions of Mr Doe Adjaho, against the Speaker of Parliament in his capacity as such, and the Attorney-General seeking the following relief's:

(a) A declaration that upon the expiration of three months after the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill was introduced in Parliament by the Second Defendant on behalf of the President, a report of the committee can no longer be laid for further steps to be taken in respect of the said Bill;

(b) A declaration that any proceeding in respect of the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill conducted in the Constitutional Legal and Parliamentary Committee or in Parliament after the expiry of the three-month period provided for in Article 106(14) to the committee is null and void;

(c) An injunction restraining First Defendant from allowing further proceedings in Parliament regarding the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill laid before Parliament on 14th June 2005 and referred to the Constitutional Legal and Parliamentary Committee on that date; The Petition explained that after the Counsel had ascertained from the bailiff entrusted to serve the processes on the Defendant, that the processes had been duly served on the Defendants, the firm received instructions from client to send a letter to the Speaker of Parliament informing him about the pending suit.

The letter to the Speaker was to urge him not to expose his high office to an application for contempt by proceeding with the acts which the Writ of Summons was seeking to prevent.

Mr Lithur said a copy of the letter was sent to the Attorney General as well who, after receiving it, entered appearance for himself and on behalf of the Speaker of Parliament.

He said the Speaker of Parliament raised no formal complaint about the letter. However, on February 8, 2006, the Deputy Attorney-General, Mr E. A. Owusu-Ansah was permitted by the Speaker to make a statement on the floor of Parliament in respect of the letter, alleging that it contained "veiled threats" to the Speaker of Parliament and that "because of the unique position of the Speaker. In his view, when Parliament sits in deliberation of matters, "there is no power, no person, who has control over Parliament in its deliberations of matters. No power, no authority and no dominion has any such power. It is not even given to the courts of Ghana to interfere in the deliberations of matters before the House."

The Speaker referred the matter to the Committee on Privileges for examination, investigation and report back to the House in accordance with Standing Order 31. 27 Feb. 06

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