General News of Thursday, 13 March 2014
Anas launches work …Ten MPs already on secret video
As the national debate on the alleged stinking acts of corruption and sleaze on the country’s legislature rages on, intelligence picked up by The Al-Hajj suggests that Ghana’s foremost investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas is putting finishing touches to an explosive piece on corruption within the legislative body.
Already, ten Members of Parliament are said to have been captured on a secret video by the investigative journalist and his agents, collecting various sums of monies to execute some agendas which they are already paid to do by the tax payer.
Although the source has asked this newspaper not to disclose any names for now, the ten MPs cut across the two major political parties in the country and include some of the vociferous ones in the august House of Parliament.
“In this project, Anas already has about ten MPs in his secret video recording and we are trying to package it for the whole nation to see what is happening within the second arm of government,” the source said on condition of anonymity.
“The footage is expected to be played on the screens and published in the newspapers in a couple of weeks, God willing…let us not jump the gun, let us wait and see what is in it.
“A lot of things are not going on well in this country…so we need to help the President and his government to correct the institutions….As you know, Anas has no malice against anyone when he is doing his work, the work will just speak for itself… no vendetta, no political partisanship,” the source added.
But even before Anas releases the said explosive video, a former member of the august House has been sharing with The Al-Hajj some of the alleged dirty backstage dealings in the law making House.
According to the former legislator, contrary to the spirited denial by the Minority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu that Ghanaian law makers are often influenced by individuals and organizations in articulating their views on the floor of the august House, he can confirm that the practice indeed has been taking place for some time now in the Ghanaian Parliament.
The veteran MP, a former colleague of Mr. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu and Mr Alban Bagbin, who wants to remain anonymous, has not only confirmed the appalling practice, but also described it as reprehensible and injurious to Ghana’s democracy.
He disclosed to The Al-Hajj that the phenomenon is not new and that the MPs who are arguing over what Mr Bagbin said are behaving like ostriches.
The alleged shocking but worrying backstage dealings may confirm Mr Alban Bagbins’ claims and other equally revealing allegations, including one by the minority MPs led by their leader, the same Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu that, NDC MPs received US$10,000 each from the Executive to ensure the Fortiz takeover of Merbank got parliamentary approval.
Even more disturbing of the whistleblower MP’s claim was when all 275 MPs last year November were alleged to have agreed receiving a ZTE phone each from a Chinese company.
It was rumored then that this offer was from a Chinese firm to bait the legislators to approve a juicy contract for the supply of security gadgets to provide information for the purposes of monitoring and responding to security emergencies for the government of Ghana.
It would also be recalled that some MPs, during the debate on the sale of Merbank to Fortiz in the House early this year attempted stopping it, but were ruled ‘out of order’ by the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho.
This action angered the NPP MP for Effiduase-Asokore, Frank BoakyeAgyen to claim the Speaker was compromised.
But following threats to investigate his conduct and a possible referral to Parliament’s Privileges Committee, the MP recanted and apologized to the Speaker and his colleagues in the House.
In the midst of all these scandalous allegations about the nation’s legislature, anti-graft campaigner and former MP for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, Hon Paul Collins Appiah Ofori last year amended his earlier accusation in the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone Holdings BV that all the then 230 MPs each received US$5000 to vote in favor of the questionable transaction.
However, leadership of the House has since denied the assertion.
Nonetheless, a former lawmaker and whistleblower, who per his own proclamation is been haunted by his past and the disturbing happenings in Parliament, in a separate but exclusive interview with The Al-Hajjmade interesting revelations about how both the majority and minority MPs shortchange Ghanaians to their own benefit, especially in the approval of critical bills, loan agreements and approval of the nation’s budget statements.
Although this paper cannot for now independently vouch for any of the allegations from the former MP, some of his revelations could be very disturbing as they bother on the very integrity and commitment of the peoples’ representatives.
Indeed, nearly confirming previous allegation by Hon. P.C. Appiah-Ofori, that MPs took $5,000 bribe in the Vodafone deal, the whistle blower MP said it is true that most of the time before critical and contentious bills receive parliamentary approval, MPs’ palms must be well ‘greased,’ in his words.
According to the former law-maker, even though sometimes the ‘palm greasing’ is at the leadership level, both the majority and minority sides in the House under Presidents John Kufour, John Atta Mills and the Mahama administrations are all guilty in this transgressions, insisting “it is important that parliament is sanitized to enable it play its watchdog role, rather than scheming with the executive.”
“I can tell you that these things do occur, it happened in the infamous CNTCI loan, Vodafone/Ghana Telecom deal, the botched STX Korea housing project and even the $3 billion Chinese loan agreement, all approved by the House in controversial circumstances,” he stated.
The whistle blower former legislator expatiating further, explained that the executive deliberately bring contentious and controversial deals and bills to parliament with some few days of parliament going on recess and “the MPs are induced with overseas travels, projects for their various constituencies and in some cases money to pass a bill or a deal.”
He alleged further that before or after the presentation of debate in parliament or a Presidents’ address to Parliament, the MPs’ mouths are ‘sealed’ with juicy packages to go mild, adding that the approval of last year’s budget and the debate on the sessional address under Mahama’s presidency were no exception.
Giving the spontaneous media reports of possible boycott of President Mahama’s sessional address by MPs, which was i openly articulated by NPP MP for Atwima-Mponua, Isaac Asiamah, the former legislator said, he would not be surprised if the MPs were ‘sorted’ out prior to the address.
Speaking on the matter in the course of our investigation sometime last year when The Al-Hajj sought out their views, whiles the former deputy majority leader and current Minister of State at the Presidency, Alhaji Rashid Pelpuo, flatly denied the existence of such practice in the law-making House, his former colleague and anti-corruption crusader, P.C Appiah Ofori, said it is possible, citing the Ghana Telecom/Vodafone deal.
“The practice in the House is if the NPP is in government and they bring a bill in Parliament, irrespective of how bad it is, all NPP MPs must support, the same applies to the NDC, so they overlook the interest of the state to their various parties’ interest… because they know what they will personally get from such transactions,” the anti-corruption crusader said when this paper sought his view on the matter.
Though he maintained that apart from the Vodafone deal, where an aggrieved member of the House who was bypassed with the $5,000 ‘bribe’ hinted him, he is not in the know that such practice took place in the CNTCI, STX deal and the USD3 billion Chinese loan, but was quick to add that “if none of the MPs felt cheated and aggrieved in those transactions, I wouldn’t know if they took money or not, if they are all okay with whatever went on, there was no way I will know.”
On his part, Alhaji Rashid Pelpuo explained that it is not true that the executive deliberately bring sensitive bills and deals to Parliament late just to stampede legislators into it passage, adding, it is believed that before a deal is brought to Parliament, the executive will do some due diligence, and that sometimes delay some of the bills arriving in Parliament.
“Since 1992, we have passed thousands of bills, loan agreements and what have you, it is just a few that has backfired, the STX deal was not the fault of Parliament neither was it the fault of government, it was board room wrangling that resulted in the failure of the project, so you can’t say we connive with the executives to cheat Ghanaians,” Alhaji Rashid Pelpuo added.