The Minority in Parliament, led by its Leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu has drawn the attention of the House to an eminent constitutional crisis, for which it places a responsibility on the House to move swiftly to avert before the unwanted happens.
The Leader revealed that, the provisions of the constitution which provides basis for the assumption of office of the Speaker as an Acting President did not take into consideration current dynamics, and this might spell constitutional crisis for the country in the near future.
Article 60(11) provides that “Where the President and the Vice-President are both unable to perform the functions of the President, the Speaker of Parliament shall perform those functions until the President or the Vice-President is able to perform those functions or a new President assumes office, as the case may be.
He indicated that, the emphasis here was on “when the President and the Vice are both unable to perform as President, it is only then that the Speaker would be called to act as President.
He said in this case, the President is only unavailable because of extra-territorial duties, and that does not mean the President is unable to act as President.
Though, to him, he commends the Speaker for following the law, there is a deficiency there which could trigger a constitutional crisis in the future.
He said “absence of the President from Ghana is not the same as unable to perform his functions as a President”.
He admitted that, the process was done in order to avert a constitutional vacuum in Ghana, but according to him, Parliament should wake up in order to avert a possible constitutional crisis.
The Minority Leader also admitted that, the Supreme Court made certain pronouncements on the matter in the case Atta Mensah Vs. The Attorney General (3rd December, 2016) where Atta Mensah together with a US based Ghanaian Professor Kweku Asare sued the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Doe Adjaho for refusing to be sworn into office as president in the absence of the President and his Vice, asking the Supreme Court to order the Speaker to stop violating Article 60 (11) and (12) of the 1992 Constitution, but disagrees with the rulings.
According to the Minority Leader, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo remains the President of Ghana, and thinks the framers of the constitution never anticipated such happenings where the Speaker would have to act as the President due to extra territorial functions, as is happening now.
It therefore means that Prof. Mike Oquaye would be holding the fort for the internal jurisdictional functions of the President.
He gave an instance where the Speaker upon assumption of office as an Acting President forms his own government through reshuffle outside that of the substantive President; which case he said, would amount to a democratic overthrow.
He further prayed for Allah’s Grace for the Vice President to enable him return to duty, and condemned the performance of government communicators in handling information dissemination of the alleged medical issues of the Vice President.
In a related issue, the Minority in Parliament, through Hon. Mahama Ayariga, Member of Parliament for Bawku Central indicated that, the Acting President, Prof. Mike Oquaye does not have Constitutional authority to act as same.
He revealed that the Presidential Oath that was administered by the Chief Justice was amended.
He said the constitution, however, mandates the Speaker to “subscribe to the Oath set out in it”, and the oath taken by the Speaker is not the same as provided in the Constitution.
He reiterated that the Oath was amended to take care of the manner in which the Speaker ascended to the Seat of the President.
The Bawku Central Legislature indicated that, the one in the constitution say “elected to the office of the President”, but that portion was omitted by the Chief Justice to suit the circumstance.
According to him, strictly speaking, the Speaker did not subscribe to Oath set out in the constitution.
He said the framers of the constitution should have foreseen that there could be three (3) categories of persons who could likely be taking the oath; the elected President, the Vice who would act due to the demise or incapacity of the President and The Speaker taking office as a result of circumstance like this.
They should therefore have provided three (3) different Oaths for those situations.
In this vein, the Speaker is acting as the President without the constitutional authority as demanded by the constitution.
The Majority Leader agreed with the Minority on the score aforementioned, and added that another worrying issue is the usage of the word “whenever”, which presupposes that the Speaker would have to swear the oath anytime similar issue occurs.
He also recommended the Speaker should rather be made to take the Oath of Secrecy instead of the Oath of Allegiance, which he had earlier taken upon the assumption of office as Speaker.