Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, was Thursday gagged by the Speaker of Parliament from contributing to a statement on Ghanaian migrants in the United States who are being held by US authorities ahead of their deportation.
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Habib Tijani appeared before the House on behalf of the sector Minister who is out of the country, to brief the MPs on claims that the illegal Ghanaian migrants were being given inhumane treatment at a deportation camp in the US.
Though per the rules, the ranking member on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ablakwa was required to be given the opportunity to speak on the matter, the Speaker Mr. Mike Oquaye refused him on grounds that he ignored Parliament by commenting on the migrants issue in the media.
The Speaker’s argument was that since Mr. Ablakwa had already been discussing the matter in the public when he knew there was “Ahenfie” (referring to Parliament), there was no need to allow him to speak on it on the floor of the House.
“Any honourable member who intends to bring a matter before this House by our rules and privileges, must come to this House and not turn it into a gallery of media play,” the Speaker said and declined to allow Mr.Ablakwa to make contributions on the matter.
TV3 parliamentary correspondent Evelyn Tengmaa reported that the Speaker was insistent on his ruling despite intervention by the Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak who even resolved to give his opportunity to Mr. Ablakwa.
“If it is about managing the time, I’m ceding my place for the ranking member to make a comment. I will still crave your indulgence to allow the ranking on foreign affairs who has made attempt to make a statement to contribute to this statement,” Muntaka pleaded.
But the Speaker did not budge, saying: “Honourable minority leader, If you want to make a contribution as I’ve given you the chance to make, you may do so otherwise the majority will contribute and we will end any discussion on this matter”.
In view of the speaker’s stance, Muntaka also declined to contribute to the statement.
Majority leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu backed the Speaker’s decision, describing Mr. Ablakwa’s action as “unparliamentary” and underscored the need for members of the House to exercise decorum.
“If you think the radio stations are there why bring the matter to the Speaker in the first place?” he asked.
The majority leader argued to ensure that the “sanctity and integrity” of the House is protected “if we want to debate any issue in this house, to bring it here. When we have finished and members don’t have satisfaction they could go outside and engage the media”.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu notwithstanding said since the minority decline to contribute to the statement, his side would also tow that line, saying “since the minority leadership are declining comment, out of respect, I will also not make any comments on that”.
The deputy minister was consequently discharged by the Speaker.
Earlier, the deputy Minister denied allegations that Ghanaian migrants in the US are being treated inhumanely. He said they are only being held as illegal migrants.