General News of Thursday, 16 February 2017
The Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzto Ablakwa has written to the chairman of the five-member ad hoc committee probing the bribery allegation that hit the Appointments Committee of Parliament, requesting to appear as a witness.
Mr. Ablakwa’s request follows Wednesday’s disclosure by the chairman of the Appointments Committee, Joseph Osei Owusu during his testimony before the five-member probing committee that Mr. Ablakwa a member of the ‘vetting’ Committee indicated that the minority made the bribery allegation to equalize for corruption allegations leveled against ex-president John Mahama.
“In the conclave, after they had shown that they [Minority] were satisfied and were willing to withdraw their objection and agree for their report to be amended that Hon. Osafo Marfo and Boakye Agyarko be passed by consensus, we were going to leave and I said no, there was this allegation already in the public domain, and Honourable Ayariga is the one alleged to have made that allegation so we should discuss that matter after meeting, all the Minority members said was ‘Mr. Speaker cool down , cool down’ and I said ; ‘How can I cool down?
“This allegation is already in the public domain’. It was at that point that Okudzeto Ablakwa said ‘because Agyarko said our President [Mahama] was corrupt, we were spreading the corruption allegation’. The mood in the room changed afterwards,” said the first deputy speaker of parliament in his testimony.”
But the former deputy Education minister in a swift response said Mr. Osei Owusu lied describing the appointments committee chairman’s claim as “malicious.”
Nonetheless, Mr. Ablakwa in a letter to Joe Ghartey, the chairman of the ad hoc committee authored by his attorneys said even though he was aware the committee had “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,” he believed it would be fair for him to to invited us a witness to narrate his side of the story.
The letter authored by Law Offices of Ayine and Felli read in parts that: “our instructions are that our client was served with a letter dated 4th February, 2017 with reference number PG/SC/005 by the Clerk to your 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.
“However, in his 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 and first deputy speaker of parliament, Honourable Joseph Osei Owusu, mentioned our client as having told him that the bribery allegation was made up,” it added.
The letter continued: “Since our client was not given an opportunity to cross examine Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu on this unsubstantiated piece of evidence, it would surely be in accord with the rules of natural justice that our client be heard in his own defence before your Committee.”
The letter thus warned that Mr. Ablakwa would resort to the law court if the Committee fails to invite him.