Mr Kobla Mensah Woyome, Member of Parliament (MP) for South Tongu, has expressed concern about the parliamentary sitting at the week-end to swear-in Prof Michael Oquaye, the Speaker of Parliament, for the second time in one week, as Acting President of Ghana.
He said considering the cost, the time spent, the inconveniences, the risks of the invitation of members of the House to attend the swearing in, especially at the week-end, “I feel the stance taken by former Speaker Doe Adjao that the Acting President should be sworn only once, vindicates him.
Prof Oquaye was sworn in on Sunday afternoon, January 21, 2018 and in the mid-morning of Saturday, January 27, 2018, following the absence of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and his Vice Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, from Ghana.
The swearing of the Speaker is in accordance with Article 60 (11) and (12) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, which states that: “(11) Where the President and the Vice President are both unable to perform the functions of the President, the Speaker of Parliament shall perform those functions until the President of the Vice President is able to perform those functions or a new President assumes office, as the case may be.
“(12) The Speaker shall, before commencing to perform the functions of the President under clause (11) of this article, take and subscribe the oath set out in relation to the office of President.”
In line with the constitutional provisions, then Chief Justice Theodora Georgina Wood on two occasions in November 2014 went to Parliament to swear-in then Speaker, Mr Adjaho, in the absence of then President John Mahama and his Vice Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur.
Mr Adjaho, on both occasions refused to be sworn in, despite accepting to act as president; and told Members of Parliament there was no point in repeating an oath he had taken in September 2013.
Mr Samuel Atta Mensah, Chief Executive of a radio station in Accra, citifm, and US-based Ghanaian lawyer, Prof. Stephen Kwaku Asare, sent the matter to the Supreme Court, seeking a declaration that Mr. Doe Adjaho, by refusing to swear the oath, had violated the 1992 Constitution.
A nine-member panel, chaired by Justice Sophia Akufo, now Chief Justice, ruled that the Speaker is obliged to take the oath of office as president whenever both the president and his vice are out of the jurisdiction.
In that ruling, the court said the Speaker cannot be sued as a person; it is his office that can be sued. It also held that the Speaker is required by law, to take an oath of office as president when the president and his vice are both out of the country.
It maintained that the swearing-in is not a mere formality, and the judges ruled that Swearing in each time is necessary to remind the Speaker that whilst ordinarily, he is the head of the legislature, he has additional responsibilities as President.
However, Mr Woyome, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), in reaction to the swearing-in of the Speaker as President, twice within a week, said the position of former Speaker Adjaho was a very practical one.
“Speaker Doe Adjaho must be commended and given thumbs-up for saving the nation fortunes by the position he took,” Mr Woyome said.
He was worried about the call of the House, then on recess, to convene on Sunday to swear in the Speaker, and called for the reviewing of the provision to make it more practical to current times.
“The House is back and now sitting; but do we have to come back for the number of times the Speaker will have to be sworn in, whenever the President and the Vice are not in the jurisdiction?
“Are we not overburdening and stretching the Ghanaian taxpayer?” Mr Woyome asked, adding that, “MPs also perform functions for and on behalf of Government and their constituents outside the country.
“Do they have to come back each time the Speaker is to be sworn-in to act as President?”
He said apart from the financial cost of the multiple swearing-ins, there are other social costs which must be considered
“I think this multiple swearing-in needs a re-look. Mr Woyome said.
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