Minority Fume Over Atta Akyea�s Arrest

The Minority in Parliament has condemned the arrest of Hon. Samuel Atta Akyea, Member of Parliament for Abuakwa South, by the police on Tuesday July 12, 2011. Hon Atta Akyea was waylaid and arrested while in court for alleged stealing and dishonest breach of trust. A contractor, Joseph Adom of J. Adom Limited, a construction firm accused the lawyer and New Patriotic Party member of a series of dishonest acts, including defrauding him of $60,000. He is currently on a $100,000 bail with one surety. There was a major uproar on the floor of Parliament a day after his arrest from the minority who say the arrest was done in defiance of the provisions of the Constitution. According to them, the right procedure was for the Police Service or the Attorney Generals Department to write to the Speaker of Parliament to tell her of their intention to arrest a Member of Parliament before effecting the arrest. The Minority members believe it was improper for the Police Administration to effect the arrest before informing the Speaker. They had earlier threatened to send the matter to the Privileges Committee of Parliament for appropriate action to be taken. The Speaker of Parliament, Justice Joyce Bamford Addo, described the incident as unfortunate and promised it would not happen again. But speaking in an interview, a former Deputy Minister of Finance in the Kufuor administration, Prof George Gyan-Baffour, indicated that the Speaker had not taken a strong enough stance. �What I expected the Speaker to say was to inform them that �you inform before you arrest;� if nobody had heard about it, it means that they would have kept him there and would have committed that error� he told Citi FM�s parliamentary correspondent Richard Sky. "They have done it before and they are doing it now, you need prior approval from the Speaker before you arrest an individual, you do not arrest the individual before you come to Speaker for clearance, by then the harm would have already been done. "When someone is on his way to Parliament, you cannot arrest that person or when he is performing his parliamentary duties�. Although Hon Atta Akyea was arrested after a court session, which was not directly connected to his parliamentary duties, Prof. Gyan Baffour, who is also the Member of Parliament for Wenchi, intimates that �so far as Parliament is sitting, it does not matter whether you are inside the House or outside the House, it does not matter. �If he were in the court he may have had permission from Parliament to be in court. So it means he was on his way to Parliament and then he got arrested and that is not right. He however expressed satisfaction with the Speakers� move to get the Abuakwa South MP released. In a related development, a former Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ken Dzirasa is calling for a review of the Standing Orders of Parliament to properly define the procedure for the arrest of a sitting Member of Parliament. According to the former NDC MP for South Tongu, the Standing Orders of the House which state that an MP cannot be arrested while Parliament is in session has not been clearly defined hence, lending itself to confusion and possible abuse. Hon Dzirasa�s comments follow the arrest of the sitting NPP MP for Abuakwa South while on his way from the courts on July 12.