General News of Friday, 17 February 2017
The Member of Parliament for North Tongu in the Volta region, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has asked Parliament’s ad-hoc committee investigating the bribery allegations to invite him as a witness.
In a letter dated February 16, 2016, written through his lawyers, Ayine and Feli, he explained he was served with a letter dated 4th February, 2017 with reference number PG/SC/005 by the Clerk to the Committee inviting him to attend upon the Committee as a witness on a date and at a time to be communicated to him.
“Our client further instructs us that it has come to his attention 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,” the letter said.
Mr Ablakwa's lawyers however said in his [Osei-Owusu] testimony which was beamed live on national 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 Ablakwa as having told him that 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 sure be in accord with the rules of natural justice that our client be heard in his own defence before your Committee.”
Mr Ablakwa has since in a Facebook post responded to claims by Mr Osei-Owusu that he [Okudzeto] confessed that the bribery allegation against some members of the Appointments Committee was cooked up.
Parliament formed the committee following allegations by the MP for Bawku Central, Mr Mahama Ayariga that the Energy Minister, Mr Boakye Agyarko attempted bribing Minority members on the Appointments Committee with Gh¢3,000 each with the aim to influence his approval as Minister.
Mr Ayariga further claimed that the money was handed to the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka by the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Mr Joseph Osei Owusu for onward disbursement, a claim both have denied.
Mr Ayariga together with two of his colleagues, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Mr Alhassan Suhuyini subsequently petitioned the Speaker of Parliament to investigate the claims.
The ad-hoc committee is chaired by the MP for Essikado-Ketan, Mr Joe Ghartey who is also a Minister in charge of Railways Development.
The four other members are Mr Ben Abdallah, Mrs Abena Durowaa Mensah, Mr Magnus Kofi Amoate and Mr Benson Tongo Baba.
The terms of reference for the committee is to establish whether the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Joseph Osei Owusu took money from the Energy Minister, Mr Boakye Agyarko and gave it to the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka to the distributed to Members of the Appointments Committee.
It is also to establish whether there was an attempt to bribe Members of the Appointments Committee and to look into the merits of the complaints and assertions made by the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Joseph Osei Owusu about the matter.