Tamale North Lawmaker Alhassan Suhuyini has said he felt obliged to raise the issues against his colleague Member of Parliament for Assin Central Kennedy Agyapong on the floor of the House because of his background as a journalist.
This comes after Speaker Alban Bagbin has referred Mr. Agyapong to the Privileges Committee of Parliament for his utterances against a journalist with the Multimedia Group, Erastus Asare Donkor.
Mr. Agyapong on Friday, July 9, is reported to have allegedly threatened to attack Mr. Asare Donkor, “for the journalistic work that the latter undertook during the recent shootings and killing incident at Ejura” on his television station.
The Multimedia Group filed a formal complaint against Mr. Agyapong.
On Wednesday, July 14, Alhassan Suhuyini raised the issue on the floor of the house and asked the Speaker to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee.
He said “Mr Speaker, I think that as a former journalist I feel obliged to draw the House’s attention to this conduct of an Honorable colleague of this house which in my view, brings this house into disrepute.
“Mr Speaker, I urge you to exercise your powers under 27 and refer this conduct of the Honorable which is becoming unacceptable, to the Privileges Committee to ascertain the veracity of the comments that were made and recommend sanctions if possible that will act as deterrent to other members who may be tempted to act like him.”
In response to his request, the Speaker accordingly referred Mr Agyapong to the committee.
He said he cannot take a decision on Mr Agyapong over his utterances against a journalist in Ghana.
That decision to determine whether or not the conduct smacks of abuse of privileges, he said, rests with the lawmakers as a House, to take.
“As it is now, I am compelled to refer it to the Privileges Committee. I want to emphasize that it is the House that will take the decision, it is not the speaker, it is not any other person apart from the House.
“That will be your collective wisdom that come to the conclusion whether what is alleged is just a mere allegation or is supported by facts and whether those facts constitute contempt of the House and abuse of a privilege of members,
“It is important for me to emphasize here that the privilege and immunity of free speech apply in full force in plenary session and committee sessions, not when members are outside debating issues or on radio and TV. You don’t have that right, that privilege, that immunity to just say anything because you are a member of parliament.
“We are not above the law. It is for good reasons because you represent a large number of people, you should be given the full immunity to be able to say what the people say they want you to say. That is why you say it here and you are covered.
“That immunity doesn’t extend to you anywhere else. So pleased the committee should go into the matter, submit the report.”