General News of Tuesday, 31 January 2017
Ghana’s parliament should be in charge of the investigations into the alleged bribery scandal involving the leadership of the Appointments Committee and Minister of Energy, Boakye Agyarko, Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Joseph Whittal, has said.
According to him, CHRAJ is on standby to carry out further investigations into the matter if Ghanaians are dissatisfied with the outcome of parliament’s investigations.
His comment follows calls for an independent body to investigate the matter.
One of the proponents for an independent body to look into the matter is Dr Rasheed Draman, Executive Secretary of the African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs. He said the public confidence in parliament has been eroded especially because of the alleged involvement of the leadership in the matter, hence a body outside parliament must be tasked to prone the scandal.
Speaking in an interview with Chief Jerry Forson, host of Ghana Yensom on Accra100.5FM on Monday, 30 January, Mr Draman said: “This doesn’t do any good to the image of parliament; it is certainly a bad moment to parliament. Now it’s his (Ayariga) word against the leadership of parliament or against the institution, so, I will hope that whatever it is, we need to get the truth, we need to get to the bottom of this issue so that at the end of the day we will know whether honourable Ayariga is speaking the truth or is the institution that is speaking the truth.
“I would suggest going forward on this issue perhaps there needs to be an institution outside of parliament that should look into this because I don’t believe a lot of people have confidence in any internal processes that can deal with this, particularly because the leadership of parliament is involved.”
But commenting on this development in an interview with Nana Aba Anamoah on State of Affairs on GHOne television on Monday, Mr Whittal said: “We just want to make it clear that the image of parliament is dented. It is very critical that the steps that would be taken should lead to people having confidence in the parliament of Ghana. Parliament has its own procedures and, so, we should allow parliament to see how they can unbiasedly investigate and come out with the truth because Ghanaians are watching and are expecting results. But being the body that has the mandate to investigate corruption, we are on standby.
“We are allowing parliament to go on, we are watching to see how the leadership will put in place the structures to investigate this in a manner that will give confidence to the Ghanaian people. Beyond that we are standing by just in case the results … do not meet the expectations of the people, we will always investigate because we have the power to investigate allegations of corruption among public officers.”
When asked whether parliament should be responsible for the investigation, Mr Whittal said: “I think so. I think so because critically the only committee that is mentioned in the [constitution] for the legislature is the parliamentary committee on privileges. Any member who raises a statement that is defamatory can be brought before the committee and the committee will investigate. Corruption or bribery allegation can be defamatory.”
On Friday January 27, Bawku Central Member of Parliament Mahama Ayariga alleged that Boakye Agyarko, Minister of Energy, whose approval was frozen pending the determination of certain issues, dished out GHS3000 as bribe to each of the minority members on the committee with the aim to influence them so they approve his nomination without further delay.
Mr Ayariga claimed the money was given to Committee Chair Joe Osei-Owusu by Mr Agyarko who in turn channeled it through Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mubarak to the MPs, who, according to the Bawku Central MP, subsequently rejected it.