General News of Sunday, 29 January 2017
The Chairman of Parliament’s Appointment Committee Joe Osei Owusu has hinted he will sue Bawku Central MP Mahama Ayariga who has cited him in a bribery allegation.
The NDC MP, Mahama Ayariga, has linked Joe Osei Owusu to the distribution of 3,000 cedis which he later discovered, was to influence some MPs from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to approve the nomination of Boakye Agarko as Energy minister.
Ayariga says, he first believed it was sitting allowance but returned it when he later found out it was not so.
The claim has taken social media by storm and pressure has been mounted on the persons mentioned in the saga to come out and state their positions.
The first to do so in the media is Energy minister Boakye Agyarko who has stressed, he never gave out monies meant to garner endorsement from NDC MPs who have been resisting his recommendation for parliamentary approval.
"It is totally false," he said on Joy News, “I have not offered any money or gone to anybody to offer to members of Parliament to make a decision in my favor.”
Taking his turn to respond to the allegations, the Committee chairman has also stated emphatically, the story is a fabrication.
"Mahama Ayariga who is making that allegation... he knows that he is lying. He is lying and he knows that" the Appointment Committee chairman told Joy FM/MultiTV's news analysis programme Newsfile Saturday.
"Let me make it clear, I have never received any money from Agyarko, I have never handed any money to Muntaka" he stressed.
Recounting how it all began, Joe Osei Owusu said some NDC MPs on his Committee had said they made up the allegation as payback to the Energy minister Boayke Agyarko who, during his vetting, also alleged former President Mahama was engaged in corruption.
The NDC MPs after hearing the claim resisted the approval of Boakye Agyarko demanding he provides evidence. Boakye Agyarko, former Vice President of the Bank of New York, has retracted the comment.
Joe Osei Owusu claims that Mahama Ayariga taking a cue from Agyarko's retraction also retracted the comments.
"Yesterday at the leadership meeting, I became light when they said that now that Agyarko had withdrawn some statement they didn't like, they are happy to say the corruption allegation [against Agyarko] was put out because he had accused the president of corruption...my anger came down", Joe Osei Owusu said on Newsfile.
Believing the matter had been brought to rest, he went on to lead the approval of the Energy minister along with 12 other nominees. But by Friday evening, the matter had resurrected on Accra-based Radio Gold where the Bawku Central MP made his allegations public.
A transcript of Ayariga's comments on Radio Gold follows:
“Yesterday (Thursday), we started hearing some rumours that it wasn’t the allowances that should be given to us from parliament. It was some other source".
"So this morning (Friday), we had a [Minority] meeting and during the meeting, we raised the issue with our Chief Whip and asked what was the source of the money. In fact we raised the issue with him yesterday( Thursday); some of us raised the issue with him yesterday and he said he going to check from the Chairman because he had also assumed that it was the sitting allowance that they had given him to give to us.
"So we raised the issue this morning again and he said he had met with the chairman and the chairman had said that it was from Boakye Agyarko who is a nominee whereupon we as a Minority said, 'no, no, we were not interested in his money', he (Muntaka) should take the money and then return it to the Chairman (of the Appointments Committee of Parliament) to give it back to Agyarko...
"...so we gave the money back to our Chief Whip and asked him to send it back to the Chairman".
"Those are the facts that I know, I don't know much beyond that. I wasn't there when the money was handed over, all I know is that we were told that that was coming from him and we said we were not interested and we returned the money to our Whip to send it back to send it back to the Chairman of the Committee.
“Well I mean, the logical conclusion is that this is money which was intended to influence us to approve his nomination".
These comments have not gone down well with the two leaders on the Appointments Committee - Asawase NDC MP Muntaka and Bekwai NPP MP Joe Osei Owusu.
The Bekwai MP who is also First Deputy Speaker of Parliament has revealed that some MPs are prevailing upon him to let the matter go. But he has resolved to make a statement on the matter when Parliament reconvenes Monday. to register his displeasure.
Ayariga could be referred to the Privileges Committee of Parliament which investigates allegations meant to impugn the integrity of parliament or an MP.
But, Joe Osei Owusu wants to escalate the matter further. "'There is parliament and there is my personal integrity" he quipped vowing to go to court.
There could be two court actions in the coming days against Mahama Ayariga but he has said he stands by his version of events and cannot be intimidated by legal threats.
His other witness Alhaji Muntaka has also not testified to his story. Muntaka has sworn by 'Allah who created he and I" that Mahama Ayariga's story is not true.
Muntaka wants the matter handled on the parliamentary level and has refrained from court action as a personal option. He however admits, the matter is "going beyond" him.