Otiko Djaba’s appointment as Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection has earned her a lawsuit from two Minority Members of Parliament.
Two Members of Parliament of the minority National Democratic Congrwwess (NDC) have filed an application at the Supreme Court, challenging the appointment of Madam Otiko Afisa Djaba as Minister of Women, Children and Social Protection.
They are MPs for Ashaiman constituency, Ernest Norgbey, and that of Juaboso constituency, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh. The plaintiffs are praying the court to declare as null and void, Otiko Djaba’s appointment; owing to her failure to participate in the National Service. They are also requesting that the newly sworn-in minister, be made to refrain from acting as one until she receives proper exemption from the National Service Scheme (NSS).
Citing the NSS 1980 Act as their point of litigation, the MPs are insisting that as long as Madam Djaba did not do her National Service, she is not qualified, nor allowed by law to hold a public office in the country. Sections of the suit reads;
“A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of the provisions of the constitution particularly article 94 (2)(g) of the constitution is in contempt of section (7) of the Ghana National Service Act, Act 426, the second defendant Otiko Djaba is disqualified from being nominated, approved, and appointed as Minister of State…”
“A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of the provisions of the constitution that the swearing in of the Second defendant is null and void and has no effect whatsoever.”
“We also want an order directed at the second defendant restraining her from acting or purporting to act as Minister of State until such a time she completes her national service or duly granted an exemption in accordance with the National Service Act.”
Minority Members of the Parliament refused to approve Madam Otiko Djaba’s appointment as Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection following her vetting by the Parliament Appointments Committee. This was as a result of her failure to participate in National Service as well as some “unsavory” statements she made against former president Mahama ahead of the 2017 elections. The furious MPs however, appears to be holding that of National Service in higher esteem, since it is the one that has a legal backing.
Although the minister in question provided explanations for not doing the National Service on her graduation from the tertiary institution, minority MPs have still refused to accept her appointment.
Madam Djaba had claimed during her vetting exercise, to have written the National Service Scheme for a waiver which she subsequently said she has received few days after her vetting. In addition, Otiko pointed out that she was already 47 at the time she completed her unversity education – an age at which one is no longer allowed to participate in the National Service.
After much heated arguments by the two opposing sides of the House without reaching a consensus on the matter, the majority went ahead and approved the Gender Minister-designate’s appointment using a secret ballot system provided by the Parliament’s Standing Order 172(5) – an exercise that was completely boycotted by the minority.
Meanwhile, a recent report reveals that Otiko Djaba’s exemption from National Service by the Scheme is only a temporary one. According to the acting Executive Director of the National Service Scheme (NSS), Ussif Mustapha, Madam Djaba’s momentary exemption, is because there is currently no board in place for the NSS.
Ghanaians can only wait to see what would be the end of all these controversy over Otiko Djaba’s appointment.
We’ll keep you updated with latest information on the matter.