Pressure is mounting on Parliament to investigate the allegation by an opposition MP Mahama Ayariga that they were bribed to approve the nomination of the Minister of Energy Boakye Agyarko.
Leading civil society organizations such as the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) as well as pressure groups like OccupyGhana and Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) have waded into the debate, pushing for the leadership of the house to establish the veracity of the MP for Bawku Central’s claim.
Matters came to a head last Friday when Mahama Ayariga claimed that Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak who is the NDC MP for Asawase shared envelopes containing GH¢3,000 for NDC MPs serving on the Appointments Committee that is vetting Ministers of State who are going to serve in the Akufo-Addo-led NPP government to approve Mr. Agyarko.
The Minority Chief Whip has already denied ever sharing envelopes containing GH¢3,000 each to approve the nomination of Mr. Agyarko to become Minister of Energy but this appears to have incensed his colleagues on the minority side of Parliament.
Some have called on Mr. Agyarko, who has since been approved by Parliament to become Minister of Energy, to resign but the GII Executive Director Linda Ofori Kwafo said it is unnecessary.
She said on TV3 Network that it would be out of place for the Minister of Energy to step down or be sacked by the President just because an allegation of bribery has been made against him.
“I will not agree that the honourable (Agyarko) should step down or be sacked,” adding that “parliament cannot be a judge in their own court.”
Mrs. Ofori Kwafo said that to get to the bottom of the matter, an independent body should be tasked to investigate the bribery allegations and not parliament.
AFAG has also issued a statement saying it is “gutted at the blatant lies and excessive use of propaganda by some supposed honorable members of Parliament,” over the allegation and called for punitive action against Mahama Ayariga if the issue is finally investigated and he is found to have lied.
“The habit of mudslinging and slandering of people with decent credibility by some Ghanaian politicians must be condemned unequivocally.”
According to AFAG, Mahama Ayariga’s claim “was negated by his superiors on the Appointments Committee of Parliament,” saying “AFAG is, however, of the view that the public denial of this event by the Chairman of the Committee Joe Osei-Owusu and the minority Chief Whip clearly showed that Mr. Ayariga cooked up this story to damage the reputation and integrity of Mr. Boakye Agyarko, Hon. Muntaka Mubarak, Hon. Joe Osei-Owusu and by extension, the Minority Leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu.”
They said Mahama Ayariga is abusing the right to freedom of speech and expression with his wild allegation against Mr. Agyarko and others saying “The claim of bribery by Hon. Mahama Ayariga against minister designate for Energy, Boakye Agyarko is very unfortunate. The allegation of receiving GH¢3,000 from the minority Chief Whip, Hon. Muntaka Mubarak as money supposedly coming from Boakye Agyarko to entice the minority to approve his [Mr. Agyarko] nomination has turned out to have never happened.”
“AFAG believes that for a member of the highest echelon of the Ghanaian society to throw out such baseless accusation without any concrete evidence is reckless and ill-fated. This drama of allegations and denials by the NDC members of parliament is a major indictment on the house of parliament.”
AFAG said it fully supported the move by the Chairman of the Committee to go to court to prove his innocence and also encourage Mr. Boakye Agyarko and Alhaji Muntaka “to take a similar step to bring this matter to an end.”
OccupyGhana said “it has observed with increasing unease, allegations and denials of corruption making the trade between Members of the Ghanaian Parliament’s Appointments Committee.”
“We are disturbed by the allegations of parliamentary rot and corruption by credible persons of the Ghanaian society against various other Committees selected to work on Bills such as the GIMPA Act, going as far as to accuse MPs of demanding bribes and payments before sitting on bills,” the group said in a statement yesterday.
The group called for independent Police investigation into what they called “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.”
“We absolutely refuse to allow Ghana’s Parliament to either add itself to the list of the country’s most corrupt institutions or become a citadel of false allegations, and our demand for this probe will settle the matter of whether or not our legislative arm of government can be trusted to uphold the rule of Law in the Ghanaian Republic,” OccupyGhana added.
By William Yaw Owusu