General News of Thursday, 16 February 2017

Source: citifmonline.com

Ablakwa appeals to testify in bribery case; threatens committee

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

Lawyers for Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, have requested that their client be allowed to testify as a witness in the alleged bribery scandal that has hit Parliament’s Appointments Committee.

The Lawyers in an official letter addressed to members of the 5-member ad-hoc committee tasked to investigate the alleged scandal, said : “we have been instructed by our client to convey to you, which we hereby do, his desire to appear before your committee to be heard on the above allegation and to provide evidence that would assist your Committee to reach a fair and true conclusion on this substantially important matter of public interest.”

The letter comes a day after the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Joe Osei-Owusu ,told the committee he refused to push for investigations into the alleged scandal after Okudzeto Ablakwa indicated that the allegation was framed.

Speaking during the first public hearing of the ad-hoc committee, Mr. Owusu, who was speaking as the first witness revealed that, when he initially raised the matter for discussion, Mr. Ablakwa trivialized the issue, saying the Minority made the allegation to equalize Mr. Agyarko’s corruption allegations leveled against former President Mahama during his vetting.

Mr. Ablakwa’s lawyers in the letter explained that, their request was premised on the fact that their client was not given any opportunity to substantiate and examine these claims.

“Our client further instructs us that, it has come to his notice that your committee has decided to limit the number of witnesses to be called to give evidence, and that he has not been named as one of such witnesses.

However, in his testimony which was beamed live on television and which has been widely reported in the national print media, the Chairman of the Appointments Committee of Parliament and First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Honourable Joseph Osei-Owusu, mentioned our client as having told him the bribery allegation was made up.

Since our client was not given an opportunity to cross examine Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu on this unsubstantiated piece of evidence, it would surely be in accord with the rules of natural justice that our client be heard in his own defence before your Committee.”

They further indicated that, they will advise their client to resort to other constitutional and legal options available if he is refused the opportunity to be heard by the committee.

The Chairman of the committee revealed on Wednesday that only four witnesses, excluding Okudzeto Ablakwa will be allowed to testify.