Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, the National Democratic Congress Chief Whip has justified his actions during the election of a Speaker of Parliament for the inauguration of the 8th Parliament on the dawn of January 7.
According to him, his actions throughout the process- kicking the paper box and removing the ballot box from its original position- was what made all the 275 MPs-elect comply with the ‘secret ballot’ process as required by the constitution.
Muntaka kicking the cardboard that served as a polling booth and removing the ballot box from the open view of other voters on live television in Parliament has been described by a section of the general public as lawless.
But speaking to Joy News in a report monitored by GhanaWeb, the Asawase MP indicated he was advocating for his colleague MPs-elect to go strictly by the Standing Orders of Parliament. The MPs-elect, though voting secretly, were asked to select the candidates in such a manner that they could see whichever candidate each of the NPP MPs-elect voted for, but he needed to insist that the law was obeyed.
“I was right, I was lawful. What I did is to take the ballot box to the returning officer to tell him that this person has shown his vote and therefore I’ll not allow him to put it in because the moment you show your vote, that vote is [disallowed]. That is the law. So, I was insisting on going with the law. So, what I did was lawful,” Muntaka justified his actions.
Muntaka (NDC- Asawase), served as a polling agent for his party during the election of Speaker and when Member of Parliament for Tema West, Carlos Ahenkorah, snatched the ballot papers and bolted with them sensing defeat to the NPP’s candidate, Muntaka chased Ahenkorah and gave him several slaps and punches.
In the end, he retrieved the ballot papers with the help of the Marshall Department though two of the papers had allegedly been chewed by Ahenkorah.
He indicated that he is ever ready to meet any committee of enquiry that will be instituted to probe what happened in Parliament because he was right and lawful.
“It would have been my wish that I also got to know how my members were voting. By trying to comply with the law, all of us have to forgo that because you could not follow the law and still see how your members were voting,” Mubarak Muntaka explained.
When asked if his NDC colleagues could have acted differently rather than making the voting of the Speaker chaotic on the day, Muntaka insisted that the NDC side could not have acted in any way.
“I mean there was no other way we could have done this, apart from what we did. Because it was later that I got to know that they went into a meeting and they were instructed and forced that every single one must show his vote,” he said.
He quoted Article 104(4) of the 1992 Constitution reads: “Where Parliament is considering a bill to amend the Constitution, or where the voting is in relation to the election or removal of any person under this Constitution or under any other law, voting shall be in secret.”
“So, if a group of people go to meet and decide they were going to put the provision of the constitution aside and our Standing Orders also frown [upon] it and you have a chairperson that sits helplessly with all his Marshall not knowing what to do, I don’t see any other way we could have resolved this apart from the way we went,” Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka stressed.
Alban Bagbin was eventually elected Speaker of the 8th Parliament of the Fourth Republic which paved way for the swearing-in of the 275 Members of Parliament.