Some Members of Parliament (MPs) have appealed to the Speaker to direct for a thorough enhancement of the security systems in the legislature to ensure that they are well protected to carry out their legislative duties.
The appeal by the MPs follows Thursday’s incident in which a 35 year old man identified as Kojo Mensah, attempted taking his own life in the chamber of the House for unknown reasons.
Mensah, who had travelled all the way from Kwesimintim constituency in the Western Region, to Accra, was in Parliament to ostensibly, look for his MP, Joseph Mensah.
He was able to enter the public gallery as a guest carrying on him a rope which he tied around a chair threatening to jump from the first floor to his death. This happened just when the House had adjourned proceedings to Friday with Members walking out from the chamber.
It took the intervention of the Police who were in plain cloth to apprehend and save the situation.
Upon his arrest, the man was heard crying and shouting that “I want to talk to His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo, I want to talk to my MP”.
The attempted suicide, has once more exposed the laxity in the security architecture of the legislature.
On the floor of the House today, several MPs lamented over the harm they are exposed to in the discharge of their duties.
“I was in my office working on some letters and two gentlemen entered my office. And when I asked them how they got access to my office, they couldn’t explain. Mr. Speaker, these are very challenging times and need to be much more resolute in asking that our safety be prioritized. And I want to call on leadership to take our security concerns very seriously. It is not sufficient to swipe a card to enter Job 600. We want all the precincts of Parliament to be equally secured”, Clement Apaak, NDC MP for Builsa South appealed.
His call was corroborated by the NDC MP for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak.
However, the send second deputy Majority Whip and NPP MP for Kpandai, Matthew Nyindam, told the House that Members have been compromising all the security arrangements leadership has put in place to ensure their own safety.
He said for the security systems in Parliament to work effectively, Members must play a key role by adhering to all the arrangements put in place.
“We’ve tried to appeal to members at several caucus meetings that job 600 car park cannot contain all the 275 Members. We have appealed to members that if you don’t have a driver, driving in and saying you want to enter your office and come, it is not possible. Where are you going to park? But we’ve all realized that most members unfortunately, will go and abandon their cars, you cannot even find them and the whole place become so bad that controlling members becomes a problem. So, we tried to adopt this technology such that if you don’t have the card, you will not be able to access the place. The issue is that leadership who have car parks there should use the place. If you don’t have the card you cannot have access to the place. Will place this before Members at a joint caucus meeting. It was also earlier agreed in one of our joint caucus meetings that no visitor should be allowed to sit at the public gallery – that all visitors should go to Job 600 and register and wait for their MPs and meet them. We’ve all agreed that the coffee shop is just for MPs and that we should not allow visitors access to the coffee shop but at the normal trend we are all MPs and we don’t want to offend anybody but when you go there you see MPs eating and chatting with friends. So it is not that leadership don’t care about the security of MPs but sometimes we are disabled by all of us our conduct. So, we must learn to respect certain basic rules that we have put in place”, he explained.
Responding to concerns raised by the Members, the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu, also blamed the MPs for not abiding by the security details in the House.
“Everybody who enters was aided by one other or another. If we breach the rules; if we quarrel with security men who prevent visitors we have not approved, how will the security men be able to assist us? I endure that often but you trace and the person entered in the name of some other MP, goes to see that MP and then follows up to my place. All of them who come here – they check with us. If we don’t give clearance, they don’t come it. So, the first security is we ourselves. Everyplace that has been designated for MPs only, we assist non-MPs to use. We use our cards for our assistants to enter the tunnels they preserve for MPs only, the lifts that are for MPs only – we enter with our visitors first and others look at them. So while asking the security people to do or leadership to do that, we must assist them by abiding the rules we have made by ourselves”, he said.