General News of Monday, 13 February 2017

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Parliament bribery allegation hearing starts Wednesday

An epoch public hearing of bribery allegations involving some members of the Appointments Committee of Parliament (ACP) and a minister of state is scheduled to commence on Wednesday, February 15, 2017.

A five-member ad hoc committee has been set up by Parliament to investigate an allegation that each member of the ACP was given GH¢3,000 bribe by the then Minister designate for Energy, Mr Boakye Agyarko, to facilitate his approval.

The committee is chaired by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Esikado/Ketan (NPP) and former Second Deputy Speaker, Mr Joe Ghartey. The rest are Mr Ben Abdallah Banda, the MP for Offinso South (NPP); Ms Ama Pomaa Boateng, MP for Juaben (NPP); Mr Magnus Kofi Amoatey, the MP for Yilo Krobo (NDC), and Mr Benson Tongo Baba, the MP for Talensi (NDC).

One of the terms of reference of the committee is to investigate the allegation that the Chairman of the ACP, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, had taken money from Mr Boakye Agyarko and given it to the Minority Chief Whip and Deputy Ranking Member on the ACP, Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka-Mubarak, to be given to Minority members on the committee as bribe.

The committee is to ascertain the veracity of such claims and also look into other matters.

It has a month to submit its report to Parliament.

Details of hearing

“The Special Committee on allegations against the chairman and some members of the Appointments Committee is to start its first public hearing from Wednesday, February 15 - Friday, February 17, 2017,” a statement from the committee said.

It said the public hearing would be held daily at the Speaker’s conference room.

The decision to hold a public hearing, according to a source, was for the sake of transparency.

It said it was to afford the public the opportunity to watch and listen to the witnesses who would be appearing before the committee.

Genesis of the allegation

In a radio interview, Mr Ayariga alleged that Alhaji Muntaka-Mubarak gave each Minority MP on the ACP GH¢3,000.

He said following rumours that the money was given by Mr Agyarko, he confronted Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak about the source and Alhaji Muntaka-Mubarak allegedly told him it was Mr Osei-Owusu who had given the money to him, with the explanation that the money was from Mr Agyarko.

Mr Ayariga said on hearing that revelation, he, together with his colleagues in the Minority, returned the money because initially they had thought it was a sitting allowance.

But Mr Osei-Owusu denied taking any money from Mr Agyarko, while Alhaji Muntaka-Mubarak also denied giving any money to Mr Ayariga.

Alhaji Muntaka-Mubarak challenged Mr Ayariga to provide evidence that he (Alhaji Muntaka-Mubarak) had given such money to him.

Mr Agyarko, on the other hand, refuted the allegation that he had given money to members of the ACP and threatened legal action against Mr Ayariga.

But Mr Ayariga said he stood by his claim of alleged bribery.

Three Minority MPs on the ACP then week to the Speaker of Parliament, requesting thorough investigations into the allegation.

The MPs are Mr Ayariga (Bawku Central), who first made the allegation; Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (North Tongu) and Mr Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini ( Tamale North).

CHRAJ on public hearing

After the bribery allegation probe committee had been set up the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) called for the sittings of the committee to be televised live.

A private citizen also petitioned CHRAJ to investigate Parliament over the bribery allegation against some members of the APC.

Regional ministers

Meanwhile, there has been a change of date in the vetting of regional ministers designate before the APC.

A statement by the acting Public Affairs Director of Parliament, Ms Kate Addo, said the original hearing which was scheduled to start from Monday, February 13 to Wednesday, February 15, 2017, has been rescheduled to start from Tuesday, February 14-Thursday, February 16, 2017.