Minister for the Interior Ambrose Dery has been summoned by the Speaker of Parliament Professor Mike Oquaye to appear before the House tomorrow to update members on security measures put in place to ensure their safety.
The directive followed the gruesome murder of the Member of Parliament (MP) for Mfantseman Constituency, Ekow Quansah Hayford, who was gunned down by robbers Thursday night while on his campaign rounds.
“I direct the Minister of the Interior to appear in this House on Tuesday to assure the safety of members, particularly in reference to this incident, which apparently provoked this distasteful act,” Prof Oquaye directed.
According to him, the security of MPs is a question that has been settled a long time ago by all democracies and mentioned Nigeria as an example where legislatures are catered for in terms of accommodation and security wherever they go.
“We must seriously develop these issues and settle them once and for all in this country. It will help everybody and ultimately ensure the security of the state and the development of democracy in this country”, Speaker Oquaye reiterated.
The robbers allegedly shot the Mfantseman legislature when he identified himself as an MP after they reportedly demanded he surrendered his phones and money.
Incidentally, the attack on Mr Hayford, a former police officer, was said to have come within days of the failure of the Ghana Police Service to honour a request by Speaker Oquaye to, at least, provide police escorts for the leadership of the House.
The shocking murder of the MP has spooked members who have renewed calls for the Police Service to provide them with personal protection.
Addressing the matter, Speaker Oquaye observed that it is becoming a real danger for an MP to declare his status and demanded, “So have MPs become an endangered species?”
“It pains me because these are elected persons in whom a very grave responsibility rests and if they do not release money, and do not come to do their job there will be no money to take care of COVID-19 for example.
“Reports so far suggest the death apparently was related to his occupation but what have people members done to deserve this. This is a very important question worthy of being considered by every citizen of this country,” he added.
The Speaker noted that it is unfortunate a directive he sent to the police for protection for the leaders and the response coincided with the murder.
The Minister, he directed, must attend to the House to give explanations and also give assurances for the protection of MPs so they would advise themselves as they deem fit in all circumstances.
MP for Trobu and Second Deputy Majority Whip, Moses Anim, in his contribution argued that MPs are not asking for a special dispensation and stressed that they are as vulnerable as Ministers and MMDCEs who have police protection.
He expressed disappointment the Ghana Police Service turned down a request from the Parliamentary Service Board to provide security for MPs.
“Mr. Speaker, the response received was not an appropriate response expected from the institution of the police service,” he said.
According to him, just as Ministers of State can be targeted because of their political positions, MPs can also be targets for criminal elements.
“Reports indicate he was shot when he identified himself as an MP. This is an indication that MPs have ultimately become an endangered species in the political architecture of this country,” he stated.
He expressed hope that the murder, which is the second following the killing of Hon. J.B. Danquah-Adu should be the last to hit Parliament.
Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, lamented the death of the colleague and warned it is a wake-up call for Parliament to elevate the security of members as a primary matter of concern.
He argued there is no member of the Article 71 office holders under the 1992 Constitution who does not enjoy police protection except MPs.
“Indeed, DCEs are not higher in terms of political elevation to MPs. Ministers of state are not above MPs by the constitutional framework because MPs are elected while some ministers may just be appointed. So the matter of our personal safety and security is very important”, he added.
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu argued that the circumstances leading to the murder of Ekow Hayford should be unraveled and appealed to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the Minister of Interior to take up the matter urgently and report to the House