General News of Monday, 30 January 2017
Former Deputy Education Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has said that minority chief whip, Muhammad Muntaka ‘lied’ over his claims that the minority members of the house were not paid any amount of money for them to approve the President’s nominee for Energy.
The North Tongu MP told Adom FM’s Morning Show, ‘Dwaso Nsem’ on Monday that he indeed was paid a sum of GHC3,000 the Asawase MP and hence was shocked when Muntaka said on Saturday that money did not exchange hands before Boakye Agyarko was approved by the house.
“Truly, we were given money…I was shocked when Muntaka denied the bribery allegation, someone called to inform me but I was shocked until later in the day when I heard the tape…I must say I wasn’t surprised, I was shocked…,” he said.
Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga alleged on Accra-based Radio Gold on Friday that the Energy Minister designate, Boakye Agyarkko who was hailed by Ghanaians for outstanding performance before Parliament’s Appointment Committee sneaked an amount of GHC100,000 to the house to be distributed to minority members of the committee.
Each of the members of the minority members of Parliament’s appointment committee, Ayariga said was given an amount of GH?3,000.
He said he took the money because they had discussed issues about their sitting allowances with the minority chief whip, Muntaka Mubarak and he promised to find out from the Chairman of the Committee, Joe Osei-Owusu as to when the allowances will be paid.
Muntaka Mubarak, he said later gave the amount to them saying the money was coming from the Chairman of the committee only for them to hear it was coming from Boakye Agyarko.
"At the close of the sitting on Tuesday, we asked for allowance, we were later given GHC3,000 as allowance. Later, we were told that the money was given to us by Hon Boakye Agyarko and not the allowance as promised by the Chairman of the Committee.
“We quickly asked our ranking member, Hon Muntaka to return the money to the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Hon Joe Osei Wusu. We don’t need it.
Why Boakye Agyarko brought the money may relate to the fact that we had asked him to come and substantiate his allegations against President Mahama. As members, we would only take money from Parliament and not Agyarko. So this morning, we rejected the money," Mahama Ayariga said.
This allegation has been denied by the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Joe Osei-Owusu and Muhammad Muntaka with the former swearing by the Quoran that he never paid any money to Mahama Ayariga and the Minority members of the committee.
"I am saying this with a lot of difficulty.....I am a Muslim and Ayariga is a Muslim, I am swearing by the Allah that has created he and I, I never gave Ayariga anything and I said it was coming from Joe Osei Owusu and [Osei Owusu] has never discussed any money issue with me and ...I have never given any Ayariga any money, saying that it is coming from the Chairman,” he said.
But this denial, Okudzeto said surprised him a lot especially when Muntaka was the person who gave the money to him and also chaired a meeting of the minority caucus that they are going to return the money.
The said meeting, Okudzeto said was held in the office of Muhammad Muntaka after Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, confirmed to Samson Ahi, Eric Opoku and Mahama Ayariga that a rumour in the chamber of the house that Boakye Agyarko brought the money to be given to the MPs was true.
“Initially, we thought the money was our allowances because the previous day, the minority leader said he had raised a memo to demand our allowances but we started hearing rumours that the money was coming from Agyarko…Samson Ahi, Eric Opoku, Mahama Ayariga went to the Minority leader to go and ask if indeed it was coming from one of the nominees, Boakye Agyarko and he confirmed it,” he said.
The minority members of the committee who were less enthused about that therefore conveyed a meeting in the office of the Minority Chief Whip and reached a consensus that the monies would be returned to the giver.
“We held a minority caucus meeting and we agreed that we cannot accept any money from the nominee…I returned my money to Hon Muntaka, and I have a witness, that day, Nii Lante Vanderpuiye was in his office and he can confirm that I returned my envelope,” he said.
Okudzeto Ablakwa continued that he personally handed the money over to Muntaka in his office in the presence of Odododiodio MP, Edwin Nii Lante Vanderpuiye and has since been shocked to hear his leader denying he distributed monies to the Minority MPS.
“I returned my money and that of Mahama Ayariga to Muntaka in his office, Hon Nii Lante Vanderpuiye was in his office when I returned it. He said to me that you have brought your money and that is good, some have brought theirs and I am waiting to collect all of them and return it…,” he said.
The former deputy information minister continued that he also met Alhassan Suhuyini, and Yiele Chireh returning their share of the bribe money when he was exiting the office after returning the money.
“There are CCTV cameras in Parliament and we can review the CCTV footage to know the meeting that we held on implications of receiving the money…and that is why we are calling for Parliamentary enquiry into it…,” he said further.
The MP also said that he has no issues against Boakye Agyarko and hence won’t tell a lie against him.
“I don’t have any issue with anybody because I have gone through this vetting twice and the NPP minority didn’t do this to me so why would I want to cook this story against anybody…there were fourteen people so why we would we want to tell a lie about just him knowing very well that the Bible says don’t bear force witness against your neighbor,” he said.