President Nana Akufo-Addo has rejected a petition that sought to have the Speaker of Parliament removed over allegations of stated misbehaviour, abuse of power and corruption arising out of the proposed controversial new chamber for parliament.
Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) on July 9 petitioned the President to under Article 146 of the 1992 constitution, trigger impeachment proceedings against Prof. Ocquaye.
ASEPA had claimed the Speaker, Prof. Mike Ocquaye, acted ultra vires by not seeking “the necessary approvals from parliament and the public procurement authority” before initiating processes for the construction of the new chamber, which has since July 8 been put on hold due to public outcry.
The group claimed Prof Ocquaye breached the public procurement laws of Ghana by single handedly “handpicking an architect to design the prototype for the new chamber without any tender process”.
“This, we believe, constitute stated misconduct and abuse of office and provides enough grounds for the removal of the Speaker from office in accordance with the constitution of the republic of Ghana,” he contended in the petition,” the petition indicated.
But Nana Bediatuo Asante, Secretary to the President, has in a response to the petition stated Nana Akufo-Addo cannot remove Prof. Mike Ocquaye as Speaker of Parliament citing constitutional constraints.
“Inasmuch as we respect the exercise of your rights as a citizen of Ghana, we are constrained to inform you that the President has no power under the constitution and laws of Ghana to remove the speaker of parliament from office,” the July 19 letter by Nana Bediatuo Asante read in part.
The country’s 1992 constitution, the Secretary to the President said, safeguards strict separation of powers to prevent one arm of the state from interfering in the affairs of another, except as provided by the constitution.
“Accordingly, your petition is hereby refused,” the letter concluded.
Deafening public outcry by Ghanaians, including some members of parliament from both sides of the House, forced the Parliamentary Services Board to announce a hold on the decision to construct a new chamber estimated at the cost of 200 million dollars.
“The Board, has, upon reviewing representations made by well-meaning Ghanaians, accordingly, taken the development of the new chamber block out of its present agenda,” a statement issued by the Public Affairs Directorate of Parliament explained.
But despite shelving the project for now, Mr Thompson argued Prof Ocquaye violated the country’s public procurement procedures, abused his office and engaged in “illegal malpractices”
According to Mr Thompson, the Speaker “independently coerced the finance minister to make budgetary allocations and also single headedly handpicked an architect to produce the designs for the now infamous new chamber of parliament”.
He wondered why the Speaker “unilaterally” wrote to the office of the President to invite President Akufo-Addo for a sod cutting ceremony to be held in the last week of June 2019 when discussions on the chamber was yet to even come before the floor of parliament.
“Why did the Speaker of parliament commence the production of the designs without any competitive lender process and the necessary approvals from the public Procurement Authority in accordance with the Public Procurement Act,” he stated.
He claimed Prof Ocquaye breached the public procurement laws of Ghana by single handedly “handpicking an architect to design the prototype for the new chamber without any tender process”.
Mr Thompson questioned the basis of on which the Finance Ministry also made budgetary allocations for the construction of this new chamber and why monies were spent on the project which had not received the requisite statutory approvals.
“We have no shred of doubt considering the evidence available on this new chamber saga that the Speaker of Parliament Professor Aaron Ocquaye acted in bad faith, failed to consult extensively on a capital intensive project which has now led to loss of money by the state,” he stated.
He argued that the acts of the Speaker on the proposed chamber has caused financial loss to the state on the basis that the project has now been suspended.
“This, we believe, constitute stated misconduct and abuse of office and provides enough grounds for the removal of the Speaker from office in accordance with the constitution of the republic of Ghana,” he contended in the petition.
Consequently, he is asking President Nana Akufo-Addo to forward the petition to the appropriate quarters to “determine the validity of the grounds of such invocations” as required under Article 146.