The Minority in Parliament has given the clearest indication yet that it will challenge the trial of Member for Bawku Central Constituency by an Accra High Court.
Mahama Ayariga is standing trial at the Court for tax evasion and procurement allegations – at the instance of the Special Prosecutor – but circumstances that led to his subpoena on Tuesday made the Minority mull other options.
According to Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, the Court’s presiding judge, Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe, did not have the locus to interpret Article 118 and 117 of the 1992 Constitution.
For him, interpretation of those articles exclusively rests in the bosom of the apex court of the land – Supreme Court.
The Tamale South MP says parliamentarians have some extent of immunity under the constitution and that is succinctly enshrined in constitution.
But Justice Afia Serwaa Botwe had snubbed a certificate by the Speaker of Parliament and asked Mr Ayariga to appear by 1:00pm despite he being in the House for the day’s session.
Dramatically, the House suspended sitting to consider an application filed by Mr Ayariga on whether a sitting MP can be summoned by any court of the land.
After the day’s sitting, the Minority Leader stated: “We intend to challenge and table before the Supreme Court of Ghana.
“We would invoke their exclusive jurisdiction of interpretation on Articles 118 and 117 and 122 accordingly.
“I do not think that the presiding judge had the clouts to interpret the constitution as I understand the 1992 Constitution.”
He insisted Mr Ayariga cannot be summoned under the circumstances on Tuesday despite the judge’s interpretation that an MP cannot be summoned only as a witness and not when they stand accused.
“We aren’t saying that he would not appear before trial but allow him to work as an elected representative of Parliament while he respects due process and the rule of law.”
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP is standing trial for evading tax to the tune of GH¢30,528.29 after he is said to have imported three second-hand Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles.
He paid GH¢6,062.86 instead of GH¢36,591.15.