There was a heated argument in Parliament on Wednesday, when Minority Chief Whip Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak raised issues on the unavailability of copies of the Office of the Special Prosecutors Bill.
He said that flouted the Standing Orders of the House especially Order 78 of Parliament’s Standing Orders, which he said was breached because there were no enough copies of the bill for members’ perusal at the time of laying it the day before.
Alhaji Mubarak said: “There is a minimum requirement and Order 75 of the House indicates that as soon as sufficient copies of a paper for distribution to members was received at the office of the clerk, notice of presentation of the paper may be placed on the order paper and as soon as Mr Speaker announces papers for presentation, the paper will have been deemed to be laid on the table,” he said.
The members on the Minority side of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) contended that despite the bill being laid the day before the House, members were not yet served with copies to enable them make meaningful inputs in the discussions.
The Minority, therefore, called for the bill to be withdrawn for copies to be made available to members before further discussions.
Members on the Minority Side had protested to the laying of the bill on Tuesday, July 18, 2017, on the grounds that the right procedure was not followed, citing unavailability of copies to members.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo then flagbearer of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), while campaigning for the position in 2016, announced in a speech at the 16th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, at Abetifi, Kwahu, that an Akufo-Addo led government would create an office of a special public prosecutor to prosecute ‘certain’ corrupt cases in the public sector.
He said the office of the prosecutor would be created within six months in office if he won the election.
In fulfilment of the promise, the bill on the Office of Special Prosecutor was laid on Tuesday, as part of the strategies in fighting corruption among public officers in the country.
Alhaji Mubarak explained: “Mr Speaker, this is the minimum requirement for any paper to be laid and I’m saying, yesterday, that the business of laying the bill didn’t meet this order, it didn’t meet the requirement of sufficient copies that should be made to the House.”
However, Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu responded that the clerks received sufficient copies and “would have advised the Speaker that they have sufficient copies for which reason they put it on the order paper and then brought to the House”.
He said the absence of copies is not sufficient for the bill to be dismissed, and that contrary to the Minority’s position, copies of the bill were sent to the Clerk of Parliament by Government per Order 75.
“If the issue is being raised that as of yet I don’t have a copy [of the bill], it is a different matter,” he said.
He blamed the fire that hit parts of Job 600 Block which house offices for parliamentarians as the reason why copies of the bill had not been made available to MPs.
Mr Joe Osei Owusu, the First Deputy Speaker, directed the Clerk of Parliament to make copies available for the MPs.