May 25, 2010

The Minority (NPP) in Parliament has accused President Mills of being ‘‘selective’’ in defending the rights of Ghanaians. The Minority’s latest outburst is in reaction to the death of a pregnant woman who collapsed at the offices of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) after she had been invited for “questioning.”

28 year old Celestina Tsekumah was at the BNI for questioning in connection with what was thought to be a fraudulent withdrawal of some money from the Western Union outlet at Mamobi in Accra.

She reportedly collapsed soon after entering the BNI office in Accra and was rushed to the 37 Military Hospital only to be declared dead on arrival.

On Monday May 24, the Minority NPP in Parliament at a press conference attacked President John Mills, accusing him of being “selective” in defending the rights of Ghanaians.

The Minority said it was provoked by the President’s deafening silence on the pregnant woman’s death, especially as his government has caused investigations into deaths of similar nature in the past.

“It will be recalled that when our colleague MP’s wife passed away at the Police Hospital, His Excellency immediately instituted a committee of enquiry,” the Minority said in a statement on Monday, questioning: “Why has the President not done the same” over the death of the late Celestina Tsekumah.

Minority Spokesperson on Women and Children, Hon Gifty Ohene Konadu, who addressed the media, went on to pose a rhetorical question: “Is it because of her lower social status or because she is not a known NDC activist?”

“It is very strange that a mere issue regarding transfer of money should assume a dimension that would attract the attention of an institution like the BNI,” Hon Gifty Ohene Konadu, said.

During her address to the media, Hon Gifty Ohene Konadu, broke down in tears as she asked Ghanaian women to “rise” against what she called the “monstrous activities of the BNI.”

She said: “In recent times, the BNI has involved itself in activities that appear to be outside their mandate…The time has come for the role of the BNI to be redefined to enable it play a more respectable and meaningful role for the benefit of the country.”

At that same press conference, the opposition NPP served notice it would lead a “massive demonstration” against the Mills administration “if the President fails to set up a Committee of Enquiry” to probe Celestina’s death.

NPP Women’s Organizer, Otiko Afisah Djaba, who announced the NPP’s plans declared: “If this investigation is not done within the next week, we the women of this country will demonstrate because this is not the first time…Women in this country should be respected.”

Meanwhile, the Majority side in Parliament has responded swiftly to the NPP Minority’s threat to bankroll a street demonstration to demand justice for the dead pregnant woman.

A Deputy Majority Chief Whip, Hon George Kuntu Blankson, told CitiNews the Minority is merely seeking to make “cheap political capital” out of the unfortunate death of the pregnant woman.

He told Citinews, the NPP was just making “noise.” In his view, the Minority should have taken up the matter on the floor of Parliament “in the form of a question to the Interior Minister” rather than threatening the President with demonstration. “We should start using institutions as against personalities,” he charged.

Deputy Majority Leader, Hon Rashid Pelpuo also spoke to CitiNews on the issue, saying the Minority’s charges are misguided. “They have gone overboard. How much investigations have they themselves done before coming out with a press statement? Have they gone to find out from the

BNI as to what the BNI has done over the issue? On what basis are they saying the President should come out to investigate? You don’t just hit the streets to demonstrate and ask Parliament to investigate an issue you yourself has not done proper due diligence on.”

He added: “It is not a political issue. It is an issue that we need to show a collective interest in. The target should be the BNI not the President.”

The Minority delegation has since visited the family of the deceased to express their condolences.