Parliament to probe bribery scandal

Mr. Osei Owusu, appointment committee chairman

Mr. Osei Owusu, appointment committee chairman

The leadership of the Appointments Committee has said it will push for a full -scale investigation into the bribery scandal which has been levelled against it.

According to the leadership of the committee, it was important an investigation was launched into the scandal to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the allegation.

Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga, stirred controversy on Friday when he alleged that then Energy Minister-designate, Mr. Boakye Agyarko, had attempted bribing minority members on the committee after recommendations on his nomination was withheld.

Mr. Joseph Osei-Owusu, the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, who was accused of being the conduit between Mr. Agyarko and the committee, at the commencement of sitting in Accra yesterday said the committee in particular and Parliament at large needed to be purged of any bribery allegations to win back the confidence of the citizenry.

“When Parliament resumes sitting (today), leadership with the Speaker will take the appropriate steps to deal with this matter so that Ghanaians get to the bottom of this matter,” he stated.

According to the committee chairman, there is no room to induce members on the committee to recommend the approval of ministers-designate once the nominee appear before the committee.

Mr. Osei-Owusu said if any nominee intends to “bribe” the committee to facilitate their approval, the person must do so before he or she appears before it.

“If anybody wants to bribe us, then I suggest that he pays the bribe before we start because there is no room after we have started proceedings for you to influence our decision,” he said.

He said the decision of the committee has never been deferred and that whether to recommend the approval or otherwise of a nominee is determined right after proceedings among committee members adding that their decision could not be influenced by any nominee.

The chairman disclosed that there was a decision to suspend sitting after the allegations but upon further legal checks, it wasn’t possible, a decision he admitted would affect government business since the President needed the full complement of his ministers to get government business underway.

“It is with a lot of pain that I have come to sit here again presiding over this meeting. I know that in our country, people are very cynical and probably so, looking at where these allegations are coming from,” he noted.

He was hopeful a parliamentary enquiry into the matter will bring finality to the allegations.

Supporting his stance, the Minority Leader and the Ranking Member on the committee, Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, said his side of the parliamentary divide would be in support of any form of probe into the matter.

“I will and we will support full scale investigation to establish the veracity or otherwise of any matter that bothers on the reputation of persons and the reputation of Parliament including a parliamentary enquiry which may be at Parliament’s Privileges Committee.

“I expect that the Speaker and the leadership of Parliament will take up the matter to establish the truth or otherwise of what is being speculated around which is undermining the integrity and the work of the committee,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, The Ghanaian Times has cited a petition jointly signed by Mr. Ayariga, Tamale North MP, Alhassan Suyuhini and North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, all members of the committee, addressed to the Speaker of Parliament requesting investigations into the scandal.

“We jointly request you to carry out an internal enquiry into the veracity of claims made by us in the allegation of attempted bribery of Minority members on the Appointments Committee of Parliament by a ministerial nominee.

“We, the three (3) Members of Parliament, will subject ourselves fully to the processes of the enquiry,” the letter said in part.

By Lawrence Markwei and Julius Yao Petetsi

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