Minority members on the Appointments Committee of Parliament clashed with the Chairman on Monday when he stopped a nominee from responding to a question.
Chairman of the Committee and also First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, halted a question from Member of Parliament from North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa to Supreme Court nominee, Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga.
The MP had quizzed the neutrality of the Supreme Court nominee who endorsed President Akufo-Addo at a durbar in February, which he described as very political contrary to expectation of the office he occupies.
Mr. Okudzeto had sought clarification from the nominee, when in an earlier response he suggested the media had misrepresented his speech.
Justice Honyenuga stated that contrary to a report by state media, the Daily Graphic, the occasion was a durbar of Chiefs to welcome the President to the Afadjato South district capital and not an event at the Nyagbo Traditional Area, where he is the Paramount Chief.
According to him, the speech he delivered was a statement on behalf of the Chiefs who nominated him for that duty and not an expression of personal opinion.
Mr. Ablakwa, however, expressed surprise at the claims of misrepresentation and indicated that the transcription and audio-visuals of the entire address suggest differently.
Referencing from the speech, the North Tongu legislature stressed it was in breach of the Code of Conduct for Judges, sections of which demand impartiality and refraining from publicly endorsing or opposing another candidate for political office.
“Here you are on the 18th of February 2020 endorsing the President. How do you reconcile your conduct with the rules under the Code of Conducts for judges and magistrates,” he quizzed?
The Chairman, however, directed the nominee not to respond to the question, much to the chagrin of the Minority members on the Committee.
He said, “My Lord, please don’t answer it. I am refusing to admit this question because he has explained reading the speech not for the traditional area he represented. He was nominated to read the speech on behalf of the others.”
“For that reason it will be difficult to pin that on him as a personal opinion.”
The directive did not, however, go down well and Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, expressed his side’s dissatisfaction of the development.”
“This is a high judicial office and the nominee is very capable; you should allow him to vindicate himself with an answer to the question.”
He stressed that the Minority might be forced to come by way of procedure because of the directive, which would be difficult.
He said, “Let’s do a fair job to him and the office he is to occupy. There are audios and the public have access to them but to disallow the question, you will be making it difficult for us to perform our duties.”
“We are to assess him in respect of his judicial oath and in respect of his conduct and character as a person to the high office of a judge. We take strong objection to your ruling on this matter,” he added.
The Minority members thereafter vacated their seats but returned a while later to resume with the vetting.