Member of Parliament for Bawku Central Mahama Ayariga has begun a showdown with the Special Prosecutor (SP) Martin Amidu, stating he cannot avail himself in court Tuesday to be tried for alleged tax evasion and abuse of office.
Mr Amidu in March filed his first case against Mr Ayariga and subsequently wrote to the Speaker of Parliament to “release” the MP to appear in court on June 4 to answer some criminal charges against him.
But the MP who just returned from Abuja on parliamentary duties has responded to the SP describing the invitation as “inappropriately timed,” hence will not honour same.
Justifying why he cannot attend court session on Tuesday, the MP said parliament will be in session on the said date and that he will be in the House to execute his duties for the people he represent.
He argued that his constitutional right will be abridged if effort is made to compel him to honour the invitation that will ultimately make him absent himself from the House while sitting is ongoing.
“…absenting myself from sittings of parliament for a certain number of days without the Speaker’s permission could be grounds for my removal from parliament” he indicated.
In a terse response to the SP dated June 2, Mr Ayariga raised key constitutional issues, stating unequivocally that the Speaker of Parliament has no right to “release” a sitting Member of Parliament to be arraigned in court.
“Be informed that any conduct on your part that in anyway impedes or obstructs my right to be in parliament on 4th June and represent the good people of Bawku will amount to contempt of parliament,” Mr Ayariga stated.
“I believe you have read article 122 of the constitution. The language of article 122 does bind even the Speaker of parliament,” he added.
The MP contended that Amidu’s letter inviting the Speaker of Parliament “to engage in an unconstitutional conduct” could cause the Speaker to also be cited for content of parliament.
Mr Ayariga said he will only be able to attend court proceedings on days that parliament does not sit, saying “I can come to court on any other day when Parliament is not sitting”
What’s the case against Ayariga?
After a year in office, the Special Prosecutor in a writ dated March 22 commenced criminal proceedings against Ayariga who is to answer five charges including abuse of office, tax evasion and illegal transfer of foreign exchange from Ghana to Dubai without licence.
Mr Ayariga is said to have paid GH¢6,062.86 instead of GH¢36,591.15 at the port for the importation of three second-hand Toyota Land Cruisers.
By Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana