Three weeks on, probe into Jan 7 parliamentary disturbances still pending – PN Africa express concern

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The Parliamentary Network Africa (PNAfrica) has expressed serious concern with the delay by the Parliament of Ghana in initiating a probe into the unfortunate events that occurred in the early hours of January 7, 2021, during the election of a Speaker.

This delay comes in the wake of the Speaker, Mr. Alban S. K. Bagbin, describing the happenings of that day as “unruly behavior and commotion” which represents “despicable conduct unbecoming of people of honor.”

“We note that in the same inaugural address to the House on Friday, January 15, 2021 when he voiced these condemnations, the Rt. Hon. Bagbin charged Leadership of Parliament to take a serious view of it and take the necessary measures to restore the lost dignity of the august House,” a statement issued by the Parliamentary Network Africa said.

The statement pointed out that although the leaders of both the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) sides of the house have seen reason to organise multiple press conferences to address issues of Majority-Minority nomenclature and other matters that serve their parochial party interests, they have both not come clear on the one issue that received collective condemnation from home and abroad.

It recalled that on January 13, 2021, it submitted a two-paged petition to the office of the Speaker of Parliament, with the leaders of both sides of the House and the Clerk of Parliament in copy, requesting an investigation into the disturbances that characterised the Speaker’s election.

“We are disappointed to note that the petition has neither been officially acknowledged nor our prayers in the petition taken up. In that petition, we humbly called for a probe into the disturbances which marred the election, asking that the culprits be punished, and recommendations made to avert a recurrence of the unfortunate event.”

According to the group, their petition specifically recommended that necessary actions be taken to immediately address the following issues:

  • The general violent behavior of some Members-Elect and their actions that affected the election process
  • The presence of ‘Strangers’ in the hallowed Chamber of Parliament, and
  • The role of official(s) of the Parliamentary Service mandated to ensure order in the House during the period

“We strongly believe that the outcome of this inquiry would salvage the impairing image and confidence of the public in Parliament. We also believe the recommendations of the probe will help improve and strengthen the institution of Parliament and its Departments in the discharge of its duties,” it stressed.

The group reminded the Rt. Hon. Speaker of his expression of “deepest regret, both as a former Member of this Parliament and a citizen of this great nation” at what he explained as “the breaches of the sanctity of a vote, that would otherwise attract severe punishment in connection with the election of the Speaker of the 8th Parliament.”

“Indeed, we agree with him when he said “what makes it worse is the total absence of justification or reasonable excuse.” We believe therefore that there is no justification or reasonable excuse for not initiating a probe into the matter, or at the very least, not regularly updating the good people of Ghana on where the Leadership discussions on the matter have gotten to.”

The group maintained that it considers the issue a priority advocacy issue and call on all Ghanaians, colleague civil society organisations and cherished friends in the media to keep the issue activated until a credible closure is brought to it, lest we forget.

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