A legal practitioner, Samson Lardy Anyenini has taken a jab at the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, accusing him of showing disrespect to the Office of the President. Mr. Adjaho has refused to take the presidential oath for a second time in three days. On either occasion, however, he fully assumed the role of an acting president. His refusal to take the oath means Ghana at the material moment has no acting president, since the President and his Vice are outside the country, Mr. Anyenini argued. “I think we have to kill that absurdity,” he told Joy FM’s top Story. The Speaker first declined to take the oath on Wednesday and assigned this as his reason: “…after careful reading of the relevant provisions and the oath I took on the 19th September 2013, I arrived at the conclusion that it would not be necessary to subscribe to another presidential oath.”
Many legal luminaries took a swipe at the Speaker for his action, with some Members of Parliament from the Minority side indicating their intention to seek interpretation of Article 60 (12) at the Supreme Court.
The Constitutional provision stipulates: “The Speaker shall, before commencing to perform the functions of the President under clause (11) of this article, take and subscribe the oath set out in relation to the office of President.”
Chief Justice, Mrs. Georgina Wood was in Parliament today to swear in the Speaker, but he would not budge; repeating his action for a second time on Friday. Lawyer Anyenini however insisted, the Speaker ought to subscribe to the oath of the president.
“It will be obvious to all of us that, that action, first of all, disrespects the letter…[from the Office of the President] read by the Deputy Speaker because the letter was not copied to the Chief Justice for fun. It was copied to the Chief Justice and specific reference made to Article 60 (12).”
The speaker, he said, ought to obey this aspect of the constitution until a new law is passed which states otherwise.
“The Speaker at all times will have to be sworn in as many times as the occasion will occur,” Samson Anyenini emphasized.
“I, as a citizen of this country who respects the laws, will not obey any orders or directions emanating from the Speaker that are taken in the name of the presidency; I would rather obey a lawful instruction from the Chief of Staff,” he indicated.
Majority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak told Joy News on Wednesday the decision not to swear in the Speaker was taken on the advice of the Chief Justice. The claim is strongly being contested by Mr. Anyenini.
He doubts Mrs. Georgina Wood will proffer an advice that flies in the face of the law.
He made reference to Asare v Attorney General [2003-4] SCGLR 823, which the Supreme Court held that “the purposive interpretation to be given to Article 60 (11) is that where both the President and the Vice-President are absent from Ghana, they are to be regarded as unable to perform the functions of the President and thus the Speaker is obliged to perform those functions.”
In a technologically advanced world, the president can operate outside his jurisdiction but the court, Samson recalled, contended that there could be technological failure therefore there is the requirement for the physical presence of a person; and that person must be sworn in, in accordance with Article 60 (12) to perform the functions of the president.