There was controversy in Parliament on Monday when it came to light that the MP for Dome-Kwabenya, Sarah Adwoa Safo has been marked as having been present in the House last Friday, April 1.
The Adentan MP, Mohammed Adamu Ramadan, detected the unusual occurrence and raised concerns over why Ms Safo, has been indicated as present in the votes and proceedings for last Friday.
Speaking on the floor of the House on Monday, Adamu Ramadan said: “Just out of curiosity, page 7, number 225, Sarah Adwoa Safo has been marked as present.
“I don’t know whether the table office is giving effect to the Speaker’s ruling that you don’t have to be physically present in the Chamber to be captured. I don’t know if Adwoa Safo is back in this jurisdiction.”
According to reports, Adwoa Safo was not in the chamber, hence Mr. Ramadan’s contention.
In response, the presiding Speaker, Mr. Joseph Osei-Owusu, said, “the table office will verify and make appropriate corrections.”
The concern sharply divided the legislators over the true interpretation of an earlier ruling by Speaker Alban Bagbin, that MPs can be marked present if they are within the precincts of Parliament.
Discussing the matter, Members of Parliament described the ruling as problematic.
The MP for Ho West, Emmanuel Bedzra, noted that it has been the norm that MPs sign immediately they enter the chamber, hence the ruling that as far as an MP is within the precincts of Parliament, he or she cannot be considered absent.
He called on the House to bring finality to the matter as the current situation would encourage MPs not to enter the chamber.
“It has been Speaker upon Speaker’s conclusion that when you come to the chamber, the first thing you should do is to sign and you Speaker (Joseph Osei-Owusu) have said the same thing that for anybody to come to this chamber and go for a Committee meeting, it should not be recorded as being in attendance in the Chamber.
“So for a new ruling that you can be anywhere at all within the premises and you’d be counted as coming to Parliament or be in the Chamber, Mr Speaker (Joseph Osei-Owusu), I think this House must make a decision on this matter. Otherwise, we can all be in our offices and claim that we have come to Parliament,” Mr Bedzra stated.
However, Asawase MP, Muntaka Mubarak, in his submission explained that Speaker Bagbin said one could only be captured as present when he or she is in the chamber.
“I don’t think the Speaker’s ruling was that members could be absent or present without being on the floor. What he said was that the signing is not mandatory. It is for you to do it on the floor for it to be captured but not that he said you don’t need to be in the chamber, we all know” he stressed.