Member of Parliament (MP) for the Ningo Prampram constituency, Samuel Nartey George, claims that former President Jerry John Rawlings’ call for the revision of the indemnity clauses of the 1992 constitution of Ghana was a swipe at the MP for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, who is currently standing trial for corruption-related allegations.
Giving the keynote address at a parade, wreath-laying and durbar to climax activities marking the 40th anniversary of the June 4 uprising at Nungua in Accra Tuesday, the architect of the uprising said there are many constitutional clauses that do not serve the national interest.
He observed that some beneficiaries of the indemnity clauses hide behind immunity to milk the state. Mr. Rawlings thus called for an urgent establishment of a constituent assembly to review them.
“Over the years the indemnity clauses have emboldened certain characters to abuse their offices and profit themselves. The constitution of the Fourth Republic was created by us, for us and to serve us, and in light of the 25 years, there is an unqualified need to reform or rewrite our current constitution. An urgent constituent assembly ought to be established with the necessary powers to rewrite the constitution,” Rawlings said.
The call of the former president triggered a discourse on whether or not it is possible to review the indemnity clauses when they have been entrenched, and if yes, whether it is even necessary. An extended conversation on the matter touched on which kind of people the former president was possibly making reference to, considering that there has been instance where government appointees, including a sitting president have been tried.
Some are of the view that Mr. Rawlings may have been making reference to the general review of the 1992 constitution which was initiated under the Atta Mills administration of the NDC, and not necessarily the indemnity clauses.
Private legal practitioner, Bobby Benson, has argued that it is possible the former president’s comments may not have been informed by a legal understanding of what is possible in law, but said there has been a general consensus for the review of the constitution.
For the Ningo Prampram MP, the allegations of Mr. Rawlings that “some the indemnity clauses have emboldened certain characters to abuse their offices and profit themselves” cannot be true, citing former MP for Paga-Chiana, Abuga Pele and former President, John Dramani Mahama, as examples of government officials who faced prosecution even while in office.
According to Sam George, it is his considered opinion that Mr. Rawlings was only “throwing shades at Ayariga”, who on the same day was ordered to appear in court for his case to be heard but was hesitating claiming it infringed on parliamentary immunity.
Sam George added Mr. Rawlings himself is the greatest beneficiary of the indemnity clause.