General News of Monday, 30 January 2017
It is impossible for members of Parliament’s Appointments Committee to be influenced by bribes after sittings, the Chairperson of the Committee, Joe Osei-Owusu has intimated.
Speaking about the bribery allegations against the Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko, that have marred the vetting process, he explained that the committee never deferred decisions on persons vetted, thus leaving no room for external influence after sittings.
According to Mr. Osei-Owusu, one would have to bribe the committee prior to the sitting instead of after.
Ahead of the first vetting sitting today [Monday], the Chairperson explained that “the decision-making of this Committee has never been deferred. On any day, as soon as we finish proceedings when we clear the gallery, members sit here and take a decision on whether a member will be recommended for approval by consensus or the Majority.”
“If anyone wants to bribe us then I suggest that he pay the bribe before we start because there is no room after we have started proceedings for you to influence our decision,” Mr. Osei Owusu stated.
The allegations of bribery surfaced last Thursday when a Minority member of the Appointments Committee, Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central, accused Mr. Agyarko of bribing the 10 Minority members on the Appointments Committee with GHc 3,000 to pass him.
Mr. Ayariga alleged that the money was given to the Minority Chief Whip, Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka by the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Joseph Osei-Owusu for onward disbursement on Friday [January, 27], four days after his vetting on Monday [January 23].
Although the Chief Whip and the Chairman have denied the claims, the Mr. Ayariga has insisted he is certain about the allegations.
Speaker of Parliament petitioned
Mr. Ayariga, along with two other Minority members of the Appointments Committee; Alhassan Suhuyini and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MPs for Tamale North and North Tongu, have written to the Speaker of Parliament calling for a thorough investigation of the bribery claims against the Mr. Agyarko.
Mr. Osei-Owusu, who said he had come to preside over the today’s vetting “with a lot of pain” indicated that the matter would be in the hands of the leadership of Parliament when it resumes sitting tomorrow [Tuesday].
“As much as possible, I hope that tomorrow, when Parliament resumes, the leadership and the Speaker will take the appropriate steps to deal with this matter so that Ghanaians will see the bottom of the matter,” he said.