Thursday, November 18, 2010

Speaker Nape summoned

Court appearance tomorrow over alleged breaches on July 20




THE opposition has taken the unprecedented step in issuing criminal proceedings against Speaker Jeffery Nape over his conduct in parliament in July, The National reports.

Nape had been served summons to appear in court tomorrow for allegedly breaching the constitution.

Opposition leaders said they decided to act on their own after losing faith on organisations like the police, Ombudsman Commission and others.

Opposition leaders Sir Mekere Morauta, Sir Puka Temu and Bart Philemon said the summons was served on the speaker at the Crowne Plaza hotel at about 2.30pm yesterday afternoon.

The alleged breach was in relation to Nape presiding over the proceedings of parliament on July 20 and certifying four legislations when he was the acting governor-general.

Sir Puka said Nape had breached section 95(4) of the constitution that prohibited the speaker from performing his duties as the speaker when he was acting governor-general.

 “In our view, the constitution recognises the office of the governor-general to be non-political and impartial and, therefore, when the speaker is acting governor-general, he must divorce himself from his political role and maintain the integrity and impartiality of the office of the governor-general at all times,” Sir Puka said.

The breach of section 95(4) is criminal in nature that carries a penalty of K10,000 fine or 10 years imprisonment, or both.

“For this, we will be seeking orders from the court to punish the speaker by sending him to jail or be punished under the sanctions provided by the constitution.

“We see the conduct of the speaker as blatant and disrespectful of the constitution.

“He is not above the constitution.

“He deliberately took control of parliament to suit himself and the government to avoid dealing with a constitutional matter of a motion of no-confidence in the prime minister,” Sir Puka said.

“It is imperative that such serious breaches of the constitution, whether it is for political reasons or otherwise, must be tested in the appropriate forum, in this case the National Court, to see if the constitution has indeed been breached.

“It is our duty to bring such breaches to be dealt with according to law.”

Sir Puka said complaints to the Ombudsman Commission previously on similar matters had been to no avail and it would be interesting to see if the Ombudsman Commission will join the proceedings as it claims time and again to be the upholder of the constitution.

“The speaker must not abuse the democratic process of running the affairs of parliament fixed by the constitution and the standing orders.

“He has a duty to uphold these processes whether they suit him and the government or not.”

Sir Puka said the processes were laid down so that those in position of power and authority did  not abuse them.

“In this case, we say the speaker had abused the position he held at the time as acting governor-general to suit him and the government and he must face the consequences, including being brought to court.”

Nape could not be reached for comments last night.


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