Action has been set in motion in Parliament to hunt down minority members who displayed placards with the inscription ‘bloody widow’ last Tuesday when new member for Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency, Lydia Seyram Alhassan, was to be sworn-in.
1st Deputy Speaker, the Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu, directed that minority members who carried the placards be identified from video footages and referred to the privileges committee for sanctions.
The Deputy Speaker’s instruction follows a flat refusal by the Minority leadership to apologize to the Ayawaso West Wuogon member and to the House after an application was made by the Majority leadership.
The Minority staged a walkout on Tuesday to protest the violence that marred the victory of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election.
Minority chief whip, Hon. Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka had stressed the minority could not in all clear conscience witness the swearing-in of Lydia Alhassan when followers of the party who were assaulted and shot at during the by-election continue to be in hospital.
While the minority was walking out of the chamber, however, several members displayed placards with the inscription bloody widow, which incurred the chagrin of the majority who moved the motion to extract an apology.
The Majority had argued last Tuesday’s incident was not only an attack on Lydia Alhassan but on women in general and all widows in the country.
Presenting the motion to the House, Majority Chief Whip, Mathew Nyindam, noted the use of the word bloody widow in reference to the new member was abusive and offensive and a violation of the rules of the House and referred the Speaker to Standing Order 93(2).
He argued that MP for Shai-Osudoku, the Hon. Linda Obenewaa Akweley Ocloo inherited her seat from the husband who died in an accident before the NDC primaries, which she contested and won and went on to win the parliamentary seat during the national election.
He said, “And you come here to put up such placards to denigrate this House. Mr. Speaker, we should not set a bad precedent. I call on the minority to do the honourable thing by eating back their words and apologize to the House, apologize to the new member and to the women of this country.”
Deputy minority leader, James Klutse Avedzi, however argued per Standing Order 93(2) referred to by the Majority whip, no minority member made any speech which content was offensive, abusive and insulting to any sitting member of the House.
“Mr. Speaker, even at the time of the incident, the now member for Ayawaso West Wuogon being referred to was not a Member of Parliament, it was only after she was sworn in that she became a member of this House,” he argued.
Mr. Avedzi noted there is also no rule in the Standing Orders that enjoins the leadership to apologize to the House for indiscretion of a member and therefore the minority leadership would not offer such apology.
When attempts to have the minority leadership apologize failed, the Deputy Speaker asked for the individual members who displayed the placards to be identified and referred to the Privileges Committee to be sanctioned for flouting the rules of the House.
By Osumanu Al-Hassanfirstname.lastname@example.org