General News of Monday, 30 January 2017

Source: Graphic.com.gh

I’m shocked at Muntaka’s denial of bribery allegation – Okudzeto Ablakwa

The move by the Minority Chief Whip in Parliament, Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka to isolate himself from the accusation that a bribe was exchanged through him, supposedly coming from a ministerial nominee to influence Minority members on the Appointment Committee has been challenged.

According to the Member of Parliament for North Tongu in the Volta Region, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, it was shocking that the Minority Chief Whip was denying the accusation and that he [Okudzeto] received his share of the money from Muntaka and that he has witnesses to that effect.

Besides, he said it was at Muntaka’s office that a meeting was held by the Minority caucus on the Appointment Committee on Friday morning, chaired by the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, where the said allegation was discussed and a decision was reached to return the money.

He said the meeting in Muntaka’s office followed a confirmation by three members, Sampson Ahi, Eric Opoku and Mahama Ayariga from the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Joe Osei-Owusu that the money came from Mr Boakye Agyarko, the Minister of Energy.

He said the three members had gone to the chairman following hearsay in the chamber and they got the confirmation.

In a radio interview on Okay FM Monday morning, Mr Okudzeto said that was the reason for their petition to the Speaker of Parliament for an enquiry into the allegation.

According to him [Okudzeto], before he picked his share of the money on Thursday evening, he had some witnesses in his office, and he told them he was going to receive his allowance from Muntaka’s office, and when he returned too, they were still there.

He promised to provide those witnesses if the enquiry was opened.

“I was shocked, I didn’t want to believe it when I heard it but I would not want to hold brief for Muntaka, I cannot say why he said what he said. I don’t know whatever he might have been afraid of,” Mr Okudzeto said.

“If the Speaker opens an enquiry, the truth will come out. We will provide our evidence and our witnesses when the enquiry opens,” he said.

Explaining, he said Parliament was not looking good and therefore the need for an enquiry into the bribe allegation so as to help Parliament restore its image which was in “tatters.”

He however disagreed with assertions that the move was a bad boys’ rebellion against their leadership [minority].

Petition

The three Members of Parliament (MP) in the Minority who have sent a petition to the Speaker of Parliament on the bribery allegation are Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP North Tongu and Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini, MP for Tamale North.

They have requested for an internal enquiry into the allegation of attempted bribery of some members of the Appointments Committee of Parliament by a ministerial nominee.

“We jointly request you to carry out an internal enquiry into the veracity of the claims made by us in the allegation of attempted bribery of the Minority Members of the Appointments Committee of Parliament by a ministerial nominee,” the petition to the Speaker stated.

“We, the three (3) Members of Parliament, will subject ourselves fully to the processes of the enquiry. Please, accept our highest regards,” they stated.

Throwing light on the petition, Mr Okudzeto said the image of parliament, “ought to be of concern to all of us, we must care about the sanctity of parliament as a bastion of democracy and so we should not take some of these things for granted.”

“We just want the truth to come out. We should not think that for Parliament when allegations come up, we behave as if we are not interested, the leadership of Parliament must show interest and we must investigate it, he added.

He said he knew of seven MPs from the Minority side who were ready to cooperate with investigations and that it would help the image of Parliament very well.

”If we leave it as it is, the public confidence in Parliament will go low. We can begin to see a restoration of the credibility of Parliament,” he said.