National Democratic Congress MP for Bawku Central Mahama Ayariga vanished from Parliament on Tuesday to beat a 1PM court ultimatum to appear before a judge over a tax evasion case involving him.
The lawmaker had initially protested the summons and served notice he will not make himself available because it breaches parliamentary rules.
However, Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe of the Financial and Economic Crime High Court on Tuesday instructed lawyers of the legislator to produce him by 1pm Tuesday, June 4, 2019 for the case to continue.
The case was reported to the Speaker Prof. Mike Oquaye to rule on. Sitting was therefore adjourned but before the Speaker could return to the Chamber to give his ruling the opposition MP together with some leadership of his side bolted to the court in order not to incur the wrath of the judge.
The Speaker later ruled granting the MP to honour the court invitation, praying the judge to only sit on days Parliament will not be in session.
Among the key personalities accompanying Ayariga at the court include Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, Samuel Okudjeto, Dominic Aryine, Ato Forson, Sam George and APC Founder and Presidential candidate in the 2016 elections, Hassan Ayariga.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) lawmaker said the special prosecutor is breaching parliamentary rules for asking him to appear in court when the lawmaking Chamber is sitting on Tuesday, June 4, 2019.
Mr. Amidu has written to the Speaker Prof. Mike Oquaye to release the legislator, but the latter says “is not vested with the power to ‘release’ a sitting Member of Parliament to you so you can arraign that Member before court during a period when Parliament is in session and sitting”.
The former sports minister stressed he is “not enthused about abandoning my parliamentary duties” just because of an “inappropriately timed invitation”.
“Absenting myself from sittings of Parliament for a certain number of days, without the Speaker’s permission, could be grounds for my removal from Parliament. This is trite constitutional law,” he stated.
The Special Prosecutor has sued the Member of Parliament for abusing his office among other offences.
This is the first case the Office is pursuing in court since its formation more than a year ago.
Joined to the suit is one Kendrick Akwasi Marfo of ATLAS-Rent-A-Car company.
According to the writ sighted “Mahama Ayariga aged 44 years in November 2017 at Tema in the Greater Accra Region did fraudulently evade customs duties and taxes by paying GH¢6,062.86 instead of the approved duties and taxes of GH¢36,597.15 to clear three Toyota V8 Land Cruisers.”
He is also accused of allegedly abusing his office as a public officer for his private benefit by “selling three Toyota V8 Land Cruisers with registration numbers GR 2220-18, GR 2221-18 and GR 2222-18 meant to be used for your official duties as a Member of Parliament to Kendrick Akwasi Marfo of ATLAS-Rent-A-Car at a price of GH¢40,000 each.”