Constitution guarantees us protection -Haruna
The Minority Leader in Parliament, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, has indicated that the request by Members of Parliament (MPs) for police protection is just in fulfilment of privileges and facilities guaranteed Article 71 office holders under the 1992 Constitution.
The leader said all they want the government to do is to provide privileges and facilities guaranteed parliamentarians under Article 71.
It would be recalled that The Chronicle carried a story with the headline “One MP, One Police…, but large mass of Ghanaians left to defend themselves.”
In the story, the Minister for the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, had indicated that 200 police personnel would be deployed to protect Members of Parliament till the end of the year. He said these personnel would be attached to the MPs as bodyguards.
“What we have proposed to do is that between now and the end of the year we are going to provide [an] additional 200 police personnel to be part of the Parliamentary Protection Unit. They will be attached to [the] MPs as bodyguards.”
The decision comes right after the Member of Parliament for Mfantseman, Mr Ekow Quansah Hayford, was murdered by suspected armed robbers on his way from a campaign trip.
Many Ghanaians are of the view that their legislators should seek the welfare of the whole nation and not theirs alone. However, Mr Iddrisu said that their request for bodyguards or police protection was not to disadvantage Ghanaians, but a constitutional requirement that must be fulfilled.
Per the Constitution, Article 71 office holders include the President, the Vice-President, the Speaker of Parliament, the Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court. The rest are Members of Parliament (MPs), Ministers of State, political appointees and public servants, with salaries charged to the Consolidated Fund, but enjoying special constitutional privileges.
Article 71(3) of the 1992 Constitution also defines the salaries of these categories of people to include allowances, facilities, privileges and retiring benefits or awards.
“For the purposes of this article, and, except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, “salaries” includes allowances, facilities and privileges and retiring benefits or awards.”
Mr Iddrisu noted that most of Article 71 office holders enjoy more of these privileges and facilities than parliamentarians, so their request was in order.
“What we have asked for is that our privileges and facilities guaranteed under Article 71 should mean that they are entitled to personal self-protection like all other Article 71 office holders. We are simply saying that other Article 71 office holders enjoy the privileges and facilities of self-protection with the police, so we should also have same.”
He also argued that aside it being a constitutional mandate, parliamentarians are also Ghanaians and must be given protection that is deserving of every Ghanaian citizen.
“Members of Parliament are citizens of Ghana and, therefore, deserve the protection that is deserving of any Ghanaian citizen,” he said.
According to the Minority Leader, the policy was always driven by need, and they think there was a need for MPs to be protected because their work exposes them to some risks, which may be greater than what others face.
He said their demand was also not to the disadvantage of the security and protection of all other Ghanaian citizens.
“We have asked the Interior Minister to improve the general security landscape in the country, not just in the run up to the election, but in other times. We are very anguished at the manner in which our colleague MP was murdered, and so we have asked that security should be taken serious,” he said.