General News of Monday, 13 February 2017
The Special Committee set up by Parliament to investigate Mahama Ayariga’s allegation of bribe-taking by some Members of Parliament (MPs) is set to commence public sittings.
The committee, chaired by Joe Ghartey, MP for Essikado Ketan and Minister for Railways Development, has scheduled Wednesday, February 15 to Friday, February 17 as the dates for the sittings at the Speaker’s Conference Room in Parliament House.
Other members of the committee are Ben Abdallah Banda, MP for Offinso South; Magnus Kofi Amoatey, MP for Yilo Krobo; Ama Pomaa Boateng, MP for Juaben and Benson Tongo Baba MP for Talensi.
The committee had earlier scheduled today, February 13 as the date to start work, but the star witness, Mahama Ayariga, is in Nigeria for Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) parliament assignment, and it’s the hope of the committee that he would return before Wednesday.
It has been tasked to investigate Mahama Ayariga’s allegation that Boakye Agyarko – who was being vetted by the Appointments Committee – through some people, paid GH¢3,000 to the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs on the committee to influence his (Agyarko’s) approval as Minister of Energy.
They are specifically looking into the allegation against the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Joe Osei-Owusu, who Mahama Ayariga had mentioned as being the conduit for the bribing and Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak, who Mahama Ayariga claimed had brought the money.
The Joe Ghartey committee will call upon Mahama Ayariga, Joseph Osei-Owusu, who is also the 1st Deputy Speaker; Sampson Ahi and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa – members of the Appointments Committee – to appear before it.
Others to appear are Alhassan Suhuyini, Mohammed Mubarak-Muntaka, Eric Opoku and Boakye Kyeremateng Agyarko.
The investigation was launched after Mahama Ayariga and two minority MPs – Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Alhassane Suhuyini – had accused Boakye Agarko of bribing them.
Ayariga, the MP for Bawku Central, caused public outrage when he claimed on pro-NDC network – Radio Gold – recently that the Minority Chief Whip who is the NDC MP for Asawase, shared envelopes containing GH¢3,000 for minority members serving on the Appointments Committee to approve Mr. Agyarko.
The Minority Chief Whip has already denied ever sharing envelopes containing GH¢3,000 each to approve the nomination of Mr. Agyarko to become Minister of Energy, but this appears to have incensed his colleagues on the minority side of parliament.
Mahama Ayariga claimed Alhaji Muntaka had told them that it was the Committee’s Chairman Joe Osei-Owusu, who gave the money to them and said they later got to know that it was coming from Mr. Agyarko.
In the ensuing debate, Nii Lantey Vanderpuije, a minority member of the Appointments Committee, was also said to have said on Montie Fm – a sister station of Radio Gold – that he didn’t know anything about the alleged bribe, even though he was expected to have benefitted from it.