Former President John Dramani Mahama’s aide, Joyce Bawah Mogtari has fired back at Gabby Otchere who is a leading member of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) for questioning Mr Mahama’s criticism of the Supreme Court justices on the basis that he Mr Mahama has limited understating of the law.
Who is Gabby, in comparison to Mr John Dramani Mahama? Bawah Mogtari who is also a private legal practitioner asked in a Facebook post.
She said “And who says one must have a knowledge of the law to proffer an opinion, share a view or criticize rulings of the Supreme Court. Some students of the law and even lawyers lack basic understanding of the Law; the fact that they are lawyers notwithstanding. The SC is not above criticism or scrutiny.
“The bedrock of every democracy is freedom of speech first and foremost. To say nobody should criticize an institution created for the people, is within itself absurd. We should stop making a myth about these Judges; most of them were students at some point, had colleagues at the Bar before becoming judges.
“They are mandated to defend and protect our rights in a democratic dispensation. In any case, who is Gabby, in comparison to President John Dramani Mahama? Did Mr. Mahama not support his disagreement with the SC with more cogent, intelligent and practical constitutional arguments than President Akufo-Addo did in his poorly arranged no-question interview?
“John Mahama’s understanding of the law, parliamentary and governance experience, practical use of the law etc cannot be disrespected in any way, unless by persons steeped in arrogance, outright disrespect and despotic behaviour.”
Gabby had said Mr Mahama may be forgiven for his utterances on the Supreme Court ruling on the right of Deputy Speakers to vote while presiding in the House, because his understating of the law is limited.
He however, said the Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin who is a lawyer cannot be forgiven for his utterances.
In a tweet on Saturday March 12 he said “You may choose to forgive John Mahama because his elementary understanding of the law is evidently small, going by his reactions to Supreme Court decisions – except ex-presidents are expected not to speak loosely against the 3 arms of Govt. But, what about lawyer Alban Bagbin?”
Speaker Bagbin criticized the Supreme Court for the ruling they gave in relation to Deputy Speakers voting in Parliament while presiding in the House.
He said the ruling was not only an absurdity but a reckless incursion into the remit of Parliament.
“I have resisted the temptation of making a comment on the judgment of the Supreme Court on the issue of the voting rights of Deputy Speakers when presiding. But the unfortunate and myopic comment of the President has compelled me to let it out.
“The SC decision, is to say the least, not only an absurdity but a reckless incursion into the remit of Parliament.
“The trend of unanimity is equally troubling. It doesn’t help explore and expand our legal jurisprudence. The President’s comment is myopic and unfortunate. It only goes to worsen the schism between the Executive and Parliament.
“The impartiality of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker or Presiding Officer has been tresusured and fought for by this country throughout our democratic development. Mr. President, the issue being discussed is not about Parliament being above the law. Everyone knows that Parliament is not above the law.
“The Executive and the Judiciary are equally not above the law. The issue being discussed is the political question doctrine. It took centuries to detail out the strands of this doctrine and the principles are settled as to when and how this closed book could be opened. Please, I encourage the Plaintiff to go for a review.”
Just before Mr Bagbin’s comments, former President John Mahama had said the Supreme Court set a dangerous precedent of judicial interference in Parliamentary procedure following the ruling that a Deputy Speaker can vote in Parliament.
In a tweet, Mr Mahama said “A unanimous 7-0? Shocking but not surprising. An unfortunate interpretation for convenience that sets a dangerous precedent of judicial interference in Parliamentary procedure for the future.”
In another tweet, he said that “If Deputy Speakers, because they are Members of Parliament, can vote while presiding as Speaker, they could as well be able to participate in any debate on the floor over which they are presiding. This is the absurdity into which the Supreme Court ruling leads us.”
The apex court on Wednesday March 9 dismissed an application to pronounce as unconstitutional, Joseph Osei Wusu’s action of counting himself for the purposes of quorum.
Justice Jones Dotse ruled that the Deputy Speaker of Parliament participation in voting was constitutional.
Private legal practitioner and law lecturer, Justice Abdulai subsequent to the November 30, 2021 clash between Speaker Bagbin and his First Deputy after the latter overturned an earlier vote of the House rejecting Government’s 2022 Budget invited the Supreme Court to pronounce as unconstitutional, Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu’s action of counting himself for the purposes of quorum.
He argued in the context of articles 102 and 104 of the 1992 Constitution that the Deputy Speaker was not permitted to count himself for the purposes of quorum, since he had neither an original nor a casting vote as Speaker presiding.
But the 7-member panel of justices ruled that the Member of Parliament for Bekwai exercised his right constitutionally.
The SC struck out the standing order 109(3) which says a Deputy Speaker or any other member presiding shall not retain his original vote while presiding.
It furthered that the Deputy Speaker can be counted during the quorum for decision making according to article 104(1)
Justice Jones Dotse noted that the full ruling will be made available on Friday, March 11.
By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana