The Financial and Economic Court 2 Division of the Accra High Court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe, has ordered the Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mr Mahama Ayariga to make himself available throughout his trial concerning some criminal charges levelled against him by the Office of the Special Prosecutor.
According to the court, it is aware of the immunity accorded lawmakers, including the guidelines issued by the Speaker of Parliament, Prof Aaron Mike Oquaye regarding how the judiciary deals with MPs, but said since the embattled MP was not hauled before the court as a witness but as an accused person, the certificate issued by the Speaker as well as the provisions of Article 118(2) are not applicable to him, and, therefore, must appear before court at all times in relation to the trial.
The presiding judge further explained that Article 118(2) of the 1992 Constitution is explicit on the matter, hence the Bawku Central MP cannot hide under it that law for prosecutorial immunity.
The court adjourned the matter to Monday, 10 June 2019.
Addressing the media after the hearing, the Minority Leader of Parliament, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said he prays the position taken by the judge does not set the judiciary and the legislature on a collision course.
Mr Iddrisu hinted at a possible review of Article 118(2) of the 1992 Constitution since, in his view, the power does not lie in the bosom of the High Court judge to determine what immunities are enjoyed by MPs.
Mr Ayariga had earlier told Mr Amidu that he would be unable to accept his invitation to appear in court because he had parliamentary duties.
“My inability to honour your invitation is because parliament is in session and will be sitting on that day – Tuesday, 4 June 2019. The parliament of Ghana, when in session sits on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and any other day appointed by the Speaker that is not a public holiday,” Mr Ayariga said in a letter, adding: “I can come to court on any other day when parliament is not sitting,” he said in a statement.
But Justice Asare Botwe, on Tuesday, asked the lawyers for the Bawku Central MP to produce the lawmaker in court.
Accordingly, Mr Ayariga left the premises of parliament in the company of some of his fellow Minority MPs and lawyers to honour the court’s invitation.