General News of Thursday, 9 February 2017

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Enquiry into bribery scandal in Parliament to open to public

Chairman of Parliament's Appointments Committee,Joseph Osei-Owusu, Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu

Indications are that the five-member committee appointed by Parliament to investigate the bribery allegation involving some Members of Parliament (MPs) and a minister of state will conduct public hearings.

A highly placed source said for the sake of transparency, the committee had decided to open up the enquiry to the public.

It said for that reason, the doors of the committee would be opened to the public to afford people the opportunity to appreciate what would transpire.

It was not clear during the discussion whether the committee would allow live television or radio coverage.

The source said the committee would leave that to the discretion of media managers.

It said the committee would invite witnesses to the hearing next week, but added that the exact date of the hearing would be determined at a meeting yesterday.

Background

The committee was set up following a petition by the MP for Bawku Central, Mr Mahama Ayariga; the MP for North Tongu, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, and the MP for Tamale North, Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini, to the Speaker of Parliament requesting thorough investigation into the bribery allegation.

Chaired by a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and MP for Essikado-Ketan, Mr Joe Ghartey, the committee has 30 days within which to present its report.

Other members

The four other members are the MP for Offinso South, Mr Ben Abdallah Banda; the MP for Juaben, Madam Ama Pomaah Boateng; the MP for Yilo Krobo, Mr Magnus Kofi Amoateng, and the MP for Talensi, Mr Benson Tongo Baba.

Mr Ayariga had, last Friday, alleged that the Energy Minister, Mr Boakye Agyarko, had tried to influence some Minority members of the Appointments Committee of Parliament to approve his nomination.

His allegation has, however, been refuted by the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka-Mubarak, who Mr Ayariga claimed had given each Minority MP on the committee GH¢3,000, on behalf of the Energy Minister, to allegedly influence them to approve his nomination.

Private citizen

A private citizen also petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate Parliament, as well as the Presidency, over the bribery allegation against some lawmakers.

Listowel Nana Poku, a freelance journalist, joined thousands of agitating voices questioning an internal investigation committee set up by Parliament to probe the allegation against at the least two legislators and a minister.

He also wondered if the investigation by Parliament would yield any result.

He said the House had an interest in the allegation and hence it did not have the capacity to conduct the investigations.

CHRAJ

The CHRAJ recently called for the sittings of the committee to be televised live.

The Commissioner, Mr Joseph Whittal, who made the call in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra after Parliament had constituted the committee, commended the House for choosing a former Attorney-General to chair the committee.

“That means the strict proof of corruption will be brought to bear on the investigations, as is done in court,” he said.