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It's time Law on immunity of MPs must be challenged - Lawyer

Mr. Kumi is of the view that the immunity of MPs as stipulated in Article 117 of the 1992 constitution “is very wide, it is so nebulous that one can probably not be able to describe it.”

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A legal practitioner, Sylvanus Nana Kumi has said it is about time the immunity being enjoyed by Members of Parliament (MPs) is challenged at the Supreme Court.

Mr. Kumi is of the view that the immunity of MPs as stipulated in Article 117 of the 1992 constitution “is very wide, it is so nebulous that one can probably not be able to describe it.”

His pronouncement comes on the back of the declaration made by the Ashanti Regional Police Commander, DCOP Kofi Boakye that the MP for Asante Akyem North is wanted for inciting the youth of Agogo against the chiefs of the area and the Fulani herdsmen.

The MP for Bekwai, Joseph Osei-Wusu on the floor of Parliament on Friday drew the attention of the Speaker to the matter.

According to him, DCOP Boakye should have first brought the matter before the Speaker for the Speaker to invite the said Minister and go through the motions and for the necessary action to be taken.

“It’s not that MPs are above the criminal law but the procedure of bring a Member of Parliament who is alleged to have committed a criminal offence must be followed. Going out to publish that a Member of Parliament is wanted gives the impression that the person is a fugitive of Justice and that is not the case,” he explained.

But Mr. Kumi in an interview on Radio Ghana stated that the matter is a constitutional issue and “I believe it is about time somebody went to the Supreme Court to seek answers and interpretation to this wide and nebulous provision of the constitution.”

Parliamentary privileges and immunities are special rights enjoyed by the Speaker, Members and Officers of Parliament.

Article 117 of the 1992 constitution states that; “Civil or criminal process coming from any court or place out of Parliament shall not be served on, or executed in relation to, the Speaker or a member or the clerk to Parliament while he is on his way to, attending at or returning from, any proceedings of Parliament.”

The exception is with the Speaker's permission in the case of a criminal process. Also no civil or criminal process could be instituted against a Member of Parliament for anything s/he said on the floor of the House.

These Parliamentary privileges and immunities are aimed at protecting the status and authority, as well as the dignity of Parliament as an institution.

“When do we arrest a Member of Parliament or an officer when the person commits an offence?” Mr. Kumi asked.

He said this constitutional provision could be abused by MPs who may lie to escape arrest.

“This is an immunity in the constitution which post people think is so wide and so difficult to describe and so it is up to the Supreme Court to really interpret this provision of the constitution,” he added.

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