Civil Society Groups have called for an independent investigation into the bribery scandal that hit parliament at the weekend.
While the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) asked for an external independent investigation into the matter, OccupyGhana has requested for a probe by the Ghana Police Service.
The African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA), has also demanded a full-scale investigation into the bribery scandal leveled against Parliament by Mahama Ayariga, Member of Parliament for Bawku Central Constituency.
Speaking to the media after the launch of a 26-minute documentary on corruption in basic education in Accra yesterday, the Executive Director of GII, Mrs. Linda Ofori-Kwafo said such an investigation was necessary to help draw curtains on the matter and purge the august house of perceived corruption held by the public against its members.
She urged the leadership of parliament to learn from the example by the judicial council in the Judges scandal to as, a matter of urgency, commence a full-scale independent investigation into the alleged scandal.
“There has been a long held public perception of corruption against MPs. This matter is coming at a time that Ghanaians are fed up with corruption allegations therefore the leadership of the house should not treat this with kids’ gloves but ensure that they employ an independent body to investigate the scandal,” she stressed.
Mrs. Ofori-Kwafo described the alleged bribery as embarrassing, unfortunate and a big dent on the image of parliament for its members to be involved in actions deemed inimical to the development of the country.
According to her, it was also troubling for the leadership of parliament to initially take a position on the case by calling on the public to disregard the allegations because it believed it never happened.
She said it would therefore be misplaced for parliament to investigate the situation itself because of its initial position on the scandal adding that “we rather need an independent investigative body to bear the responsibility of evaluating the circumstances surrounding the allegation”.
Mrs. Ofori-Kwafo proposed that the recommendations that will be made by the independent investigative body should be implemented by parliament to the letter and sanctions should be meted out to people that will be found culpable.
A statement issued by OccupyGhana and copied The Ghanaian Times yesterday asked for an independent investigation stressing on the need to employ the Ghana Police Service to as a matter of urgency, probe the allegation.
“We call for an independent Police investigation into the damning allegations and a no-holds-barred criminal prosecution of anyone found to be on the wrong side of Ghanaian law in this scandalous development.”
“In the same vein, we demand the harshest of parliamentary and possibly criminal sanctions for those making the allegations if they prove to be false. We respectfully call on the Police CID to immediately empanel a team to commence investigations and establish the truth, or the lack thereof, in any part of the nation-wrecking allegations,” it said.
The statement also urged sanctions against those making the allegations if established to be false.
The African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA) noted that the bribery allegation involving the Minister of Energy, Boakye Agyarko and members of the minority on the Appointments Committee was likely to tarnish the image of Ghana’s Parliament.
According to the centre, the leadership of parliament had a lot of work to do in order to redeem that image especially after the former Attorney General Martin Amidu recently accused the fifth and sixth parliament of corrupt practices.
The Director of the African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs, Dr. Rashid Dramani said it was prudent for the house to commence investigations into the matter.
A bribery scandal hit parliament last weekend following a revelation by Mr. Mahama Ayariga, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central in the Upper East Region that Minority members of the Appointments Committee were bribed GH¢3,000 each.
Mr. Ayariga who is a Minority member of the Appointments Committee said the money which was said to be from Mr. Boakye Agyarko, the Energy Minister, was given to members of the Minority through Mr. Joe Osei-Owusu, the Chairman of the Appointments Committee.
but Mr Osei-Owusu denied the allegation and said he would proceed to the court to prove his innocence in the bribery scandal that had rocked his committee.
According to Mr Osei-Owusu, he has never given any money to be given to the minority caucus on the committee, as has been alleged by the Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga.
The former Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation had alleged that Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko, attempted to bribe members of the minority caucus, through the chairman of the committee, in order to be approved by the appointments committee following his vetting.
He said GH¢3000 was given to each member through the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, who had received the money from the chairman of the committee.
By Charles Amankwa and Malik Sullemana