The Majority Caucus is Parliament says since Ghana’s independence, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin is the only Speaker of Parliament provided with military personnel as security detail.
Besides, Mr Bagbin has been served with the largest number of security personnel that none of the previous Speakers had.
Responding to matters arising out of the withdrawal of military detail from the Speaker’s office, the Majority in a statement pointed out that in the history of the Fourth Republic, no Speaker had been provided with both police and military protection.
“It is only Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Bagbin who made a request to the Minister of Defence for Military protection and the Minister bent backwards to accommodate him. This has not been a regular feature in Parliamentary Security considerations,” said the Majority.
According to the Majority, the Speaker alone currently has 12 police officers around him providing security – four in his residence, three in his secretariat and additional five in and around the Speaker’s office block at all times.
“Indeed, none of the previous Speakers had half of the Police cover as accorded Rt. Hon. Bagbin. It must be emphasized for the record that Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin has been served with the highest number of security personnel for his protection that none of the previous Speakers had,” the statement added.
The Majority therefore wondered why a section of the public, especially opposition elements, would read political meaning into the regularization of his security detail, insisting that it does not in any way compromise the Speaker’s security.
The statement further wondered how this development could be seen as an attempt to gag the Speaker. “Speakers are supposed to be neutral umpires or referees in Parliament. They are supposed to listen to Members in silence and not to participate in debates. They make rulings when called upon to do so by Members……. Therefore, what voice does the Speaker have that is being muted or gagged? the statement wondered.
The Majority catalogued a number of courtesies accorded the Speaker under this government which were not provided for the previous Speakers.
For example, in a bid to bend backwards to accommodate Mr. Bagbin, the Minister of Defence has on several “occasions availed Casa-Air Plane and Helicopters to carry the Speaker to his region and home village.”
“Again, when the Speaker was invited to Nigeria, the Presidential jet was placed at his disposal. These facilities have not been accorded the previous Speakers. It does appear that the Rt. Hon. Bagbin is unappreciative of these gestures,” the statement added.
Speaker Mike Oquaye
Meanwhile, the immediate past Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, says he was not given military protection while serving as Speaker of the seventh Parliament as being speculated by sections of the public.
According to him, the speculations are “palpable” falsehood, and should be disregarded.
“I was never offered military protection, nor did I request for any. Indeed, I had only three policemen to move with me and provide security at all material times.
“This information can be easily verified by anyone who cares for the truth at the office of the Clerk-to-Parliament at any given time,” he said in a statement issued yesterday.
“I will pray that my name is left out of this media discourse on military protection and call upon all discerning Ghanaians to disregard any misleading reportage on same,” he pleaded.
The National Security Ministry over the weekend responded to a leaked correspondence between the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces and the Speaker of Parliament, from which allegations had been made to the effect that government was seeking to deprive Speaker Bagbin of the resources required for his full protection.
The Ministry insisted in a statement that, contrary to the claims that the Speaker had been “put in harm’s way”, “all requisite resources, including logistics and personnel, required for the full protection of the Speaker have been provided.”
The statement further explained that for the first time since 2017, the security arrangements for both the Speaker and Members of Parliament had been improved significantly.
The clarification was made after the Member of Parliament for Banda and Deputy Minority Whip, Ahmed Ibrahim, had claimed that the removal of the soldiers who were attached to the Office of the Speaker was done on the orders of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
“This came to us a great shock,” he said, adding that “this is the time we all need to come together to work on security.”
“We are surprised as a minority to hear government withdrawing the military detachment of the speaker. The speaker is number three; even the EC chair is using about ten military personnel. So if the Speaker duly requested for four and they have been on duty for over one year, the question: is what has changed? It raises security questions,” he said on TV3
Without providing any evidence, the MP claimed: “It is President Akufo-Addo who has withdrawn the military detachment…”