The Majority Leader, Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor has warned that the Minority side in Parliament could face contempt of Parliament for choosing to discuss in public, Rt. Hon. Edward Doe Adjaho's Monday ruling, that failed to grant a demand for an inquiry into the sale and acquisition of Merchant Bank to Fortiz Private Equity Fund Limited . According to the Majority Leader, who is also the Minister for Government Business, the calling of a press conference by the Minority NPP to review the discretion exercised by the Speaker in public was an affront to the Standing Orders of the House, which comes with a cost of being dragged to the Privileges Committee to face punitive actions. "If you think the Speaker has exercised his discretion in a matter that offends say Article 296, we are all to defend the constitution, you know what to do. You can go to court on the matter to say that Order 93(1) that gave the speaker the discretion, that discretion was abused and you adduce facts to show why the discretion was abused. "You can even actually come on a substantive motion to ask that the Speaker reconsiders his standing on the matter. At least, in our Standing Orders, these are the positions, it doesn't include holding a press conference on what the speaker ruled," he argued in an interview with The Chronicle. Dr. Kunbuor added: "for them to have used the press conference to mention the Speaker's name, the consequences are quite clear and I hope when it gets to that point, they are not going to say the Speaker is engaged in witch-hunting. As long as you don't engage the Speaker under the standing orders and you choose to go and do it, it amounts to contempt and it is a matter for the privileges committee." The Nandom legislator noted that the Speaker may for political expediency decide not to engage the entire Minority Caucus on the mater, but rather single out the person who read the press statement and cite him for contempt, particularly when that person was imputing improper motives. Should that happen, the Minority Leader, Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu could be asked to render apology or go on suspension from the House for a number of days, depending on the recommendations of the Privileges Committee. The discretionary power exercised by the Speaker under Article 269 of the Constitution and Order 93(1) of the Standing Orders of the House in quashing the motion requesting an inquest into the sale and acquisition of Merchant Bank to Fortiz Private Equity Fund has become a thorn in the flesh of the minority, provoking them to hold series of press conferences to register their displeasure about the said ruling of the Head of the Legislature . Article 296 of the 1992 Constitution states that: "Where in this Constitution or in any other law discretionary power is vested in any person or authority - (a) that discretionary power shall be deemed to imply a duty to be fair and candid; (b) the exercise of the discretionary power shall not be arbitrary, capricious or biased either by resentment, prejudice or personal dislike and shall be in accordance with due process of the law; and (c) where the person or authority is not a judge or other judicial officer, there shall be published by constitutional instrument or statutory instrument, regulations that are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution or that other law to govern the exercise of the discretionary power. Order 93(1) of the Standing Orders of the House also reads: "Reference shall not be made to any matter on which judicial decision is pending in such a way as may, in the opinion of Mr. Speaker , prejudice the interest of parties to the action." The minority at two separate press conferences held on Monday, January 6, 2014 , and Thursday January 9, 2014 , respectively, accused the Speaker of double standards and compromising his integrity because of the bias he exhibited in his ruling that shot down the motion to request an inquiry into the sale and acquisition of Merchant Bank to Fortiz Private Equity Fund Limited . The group argued that the said ruling was long prepared even before the House sat on the matter since it did not factor the views they raised. Responding to the issue raised by the minority that the ruling of the Speaker was a well orchestrated one, since his ruling together with that of the press statement of the majority had long being prepared, Dr. Kunbuor said his side had prepared their statement earlier, since they had quite a lot of difficulties in understanding whether Parliament was properly summoned to consider the motion moved by the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Dominic Nitiwul. "We had met first at the leadership level of the caucus and we decided that if this issue is about Fortiz transaction and there is so much public interest on it, we should put up a statement because we are not sure whether Parliament was properly recalled or not properly recalled. Whatever the case, we were going to hold the press conference. We had informed the Speaker that we had thought that Parliament was not properly recalled and if you look at the documents that recalled Parliament, which is the motion, and the second document was a request for the recall to address the motion, and in that they said we the undersigned were the ones requesting the recall of Parliament. What is interesting is that immediately after the request for the undersigned, there was nothing to show, and on the third page, was a list of members in support of the motion. So, when you take all these, you may say yes - there is the requirement that members should normally support the motion and so the total number will certainly support the motion. But there was no list to satisfy the 15% members of Parliament under Article 112(3)," noted Dr. Kunbuor. With regards to the creation of the 45 new constituencies which was pending in court, whereas the Speaker allowed a discussion on it, Dr. Kunbour said that action was about a normal legislative process, "which if after a number of days if it was not annulled and they were calling for annulment, that is completely different from parliament asking itself to get involved in something in an abnormal way, which is the inquiry."
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