Parliament rules if Ayariga should be in Parliament or court

Mahama Ayariga

Parliament on Tuesday ruled that an Accra High Court, which invited Mr Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central over alleged tax evasion and fraud should schedule his appearance in court to enable him to make his defence and at the same time continue with his parliamentary duties uninterrupted.

The House, referencing Article 117 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, also called for state institutions or agencies to respect the Separation of Powers, granted in the Constitution, even as it recognises that no person is above the Law.

The ruling, given by the Speaker, Prof Aaron Michael Oquaye, was after the House was suspended for the leadership to consult and decide whether Mahama Ayariga should appear in court or not over alleged tax evasion and fraud.

The ruling went down memory lane and with quotations from former legal and jurisprudence luminaries suggested that MPs could be invited to court on days when the House is not sitting or is on recess.

The Bawku Central Lawmaker had applied to the Speaker to give a ruling, and direct on the issue following his summons to court to face charges levelled against him by the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

Mr Ayariga stated, in the application, that he was willing to go to court, to defend himself and prove his innocence.

The court, a commercial court, had ordered Mr Ayariga to appear before it on Tuesday by 1300 hours to answer charges of alleged tax invasion and abuse of office in the procurement of some ambulances by the Martin Amidu led Office of the Special Prosecutor.

However, Mr Ayariga, in the application described the summons a breach of his parliamentary immunity, prompting the Majority and Minority Leaders to request the Speaker to make a determination that would be in the interest of rule of law yet protecting parliamentary immunity.