A Policy Think Tank, BASKIN AFRICA, is calling on Lawyer Samuel Owuku Okudzeto to explain comments made against two Members of Parliament during a radio interview with an Accra based private radio. They are demanding of him to apologize and retract his commentary against the two MPs.
In a release signed by the Executive Director of BASKIN AFRICA, Issifu Seidu Kudus Gbeadese, it states that “BASKIN AFRICA by this statement first and foremost, wish to call on the Senior Statesman to do a retrospection of his comment and retract appropriately. We equally want to formally draw the attention of the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council to these intimidations, and to seek clarification whether Lawyer Samuel Owuku Okudzeto was speaking in his capacity as a member of the committee of which the two young lawyers could be hauled to answer questions of respective misconducts or he was speaking in his personal capacity as a private lawyer/citizen”?
Below is the statement released by the Policy Think Tank.
BASKIN AFRICA FINDS THE THREATS ON TWO MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT BY LAWYER SAMUEL OWUKU OKUDZETO WORRYING.
BASKIN AFRICA has noted with concern, the threats issued by a senior Lawyer, Samuel Owuku Okudzeto, who is a member of the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council (GLC), on two Members of Parliament, Hon Nelson Dafeamakpor and Hon Francis-Xavier Sosu. In an interview with Asaase Radio on the 3rd November, 2021, the Member of the Council of State sought to threaten the two Members of Parliament following their resolve to initiate a Private Members’ Bill intended to amend the Legal Profession Act, 1960 (Act 32).
He stated among others that “we” will deal with the two legislators, not for doing something unlawful or a misconduct as lawyers, but by following the right procedures and the law to initiate this Private Members’ Bill to amend the Legal Profession Act, 1960 (Act 32). He further referred to these two Members of Parliament as jokers who lack the appreciation of the law and what they seek to do with the bill. We find these comments worrying and an affront to Ghana’s Parliamentary Democracy.
The decision by these Members of Parliament to initiate this bill came on the back of the recent uproar that greeted the conduct of the professional exams by the GLC which led to some questionable failures of some 499 students, and the subsequent calls by the general public for reforms to the nation’s legal education regime. Among other amendments, the bill seeks to expand legal education such that accredited Faculties of Law with the requisite facilities will be licensed to run professional law courses, remove the Chief Justice and other Justices of the Supreme Court from the GLC and to give effect to Article 37(1) of the 1992 Constitution and other related provisions in the Constitution.
In response to the decision by these young lawyers, Senior Lawyer Samuel Owuku Okudzeto, a long standing member of the disciplinary committee of the General Legal Council, did not only rubbish this move but subsequently warned the duo that they should be ready to face any repercussions that will arise as a result. BASKIN AFRICA considers these threats by one time Member of Parliament in the Second Republic and also a one time President of the Ghana Bar Association, not only a threat to the two Members of Parliament but also a dent on the democratic credentials of Ghana in the eye of the world.
As a member of the Council of State and a senior citizen who has been part of shaping Ghana’s democracy since the beginning of the first Republic, we expected Lawyer Samuel Owuku Okudzeto to have tabled his contrary opinions using the right peocedures and the appropriate platforms. At best, as a senior lawyer, he could have invited the two MPs who are his far juniors at the Bar to have a confined conversation that might probably lead to a compromise and ultimately a better outcome for Ghanaians at large.
Note that the Ghana Legal Council is a creation of Parliament by a statute. The powers, duties and responsibilities conferred on the Council in the Legal Profession Act, 1960 (Act 32), reflects the intentions and creation of Parliament. These powers and responsibilities of the GLC could be reduced, added on or outrightly withdrawn by the same Parliament through a bill. This is one of the very exercise (amendments) the two MPs have initiated using the right procedures and backing legislations.
Article 106 of the 1992 Constitution provides for the exercise of legislative powers by Parliament through bills passed by the House and assented to by the President. In furtherance, Order 119(2) of the Standing Orders of Parliament empowers any Member of Parliament to introduce any bill of which he/she has given a notice. In view of this, the Memo sent by the two MPs is in consonance with the provisions of the constitution and other relevant legislations. Any contrary position to this move therefore, must be grounded in law and communicated using the right procedure and the appropriate platform.
By order 29 (I) of the Standing Orders of Parliament, the respected senior Lawyer Samuel Owuku Okudzeto could be cited for contempt of Parliament for attempted intimation by threats on the two MPs in the conduct of their Parliamentary duties.
BASKIN AFRICA wish to seek clarity on a few issues:
- What did Lawyer Samuel Owuku Okudzeto seek to imply when he said in that interview that “we” will deal with the young legislators? To deal with them as lawyers or as MPs?
- When he said “we”, who are the “we” in this context? “We” as members of the Disciplinary Committee of the GLC or “we” Members of the Council of State?
In conclusion, BASKIN AFRICA by this statement first and foremost, wish to call on the Senior Statesman to do a retrospection of his comment and retract appropriately. We equally want to formally draw the attention of the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council to these intimidations, and to seek clarification whether Lawyer Samuel Owuku Okudzeto was speaking in his capacity as a member of the committee of which the two young lawyers could be hauled to answer questions of respective misconducts or he was speaking in his personal capacity as a private lawyer/citizen? Again, we call on the Council of State to state it’s position, whether the Senior Statesman was speaking on behalf of the Council or in his personal capacity as a private lawyer/citizen.
Issifu Seidu Kudus Gbeadese