General News of Tuesday, 31 January 2017
Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Ocquaye, will Tuesday act on a petition calling for an investigation into allegations that some MPs were bribed to approve the nomination of a minister-designate.
Today’s move by the Speaker will be the first firm action since the allegations hit headlines on Friday.
It is uncertain whether Prof Ocquaye will constitute an internal inquiry or adhere to suggestions for an independent probe into the scalding allegation against the Legislature.
Pressure group OccupyGhana is among those calling for an independent investigation.
Bawku Central Legislator, Mahama Ayariga, caused a major stir in Parliament last week when he alleged that he and other Minority MPs were handed some GH¢3,000 to approve the nomination of Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko. Mr Ayariga claimed that Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak handed him the money said to be coming from Mr Agyarko, apparently to ease tensions over his approval.
Mr Agyarko's has been given the nod for the Energy Ministry portfolio, but his nomination was stalled briefly following the Minority's claim that his performance during the vetting was unsatisfactory.
However, both Mr Agyarko and Mr Mubarak have denied knowledge of the claims. Another person named in the bribery allegation, the Chair of the Appointment Committee, Joseph Osei-Owusu, has also denied involvement any such involvement.
But MPs for Tamale North, Alhassan Suhuyini and North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, are the only members of the Minority caucus who have corroborated Mr Ayariga’s bribery claim.
The other Minority MPs on the Appointment Committee that vetted Mr Agyarko have kept a tight lip. There are ten MPs on the Committee.
Ayariga, Suhuyini, and Ablakwa have petitioned the Speaker to constitute an internal probe into their claim, vowing to cooperate fully with any process aimed at uncovering the truth.
Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, has said he supports the call for an investigation into the matter.
The probe into this allegation has become critical as the Legislature's credibility has been mired many times in the past by similar corruption allegations.
Many consider a conscious effort to get to the bottom of the recent allegations as a redeeming opportunity for the House.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has stated its preparedness to investigate the bribery allegation if Parliament does not accomplish same.