Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak
The Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak, is being pursued by his colleague National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) over a bribe allegation made by his colleague MP, Mahama Ayariga.
He denied ever sharing envelopes containing GH¢3,000 each to members of the Appointments Committee of the House to approve the nomination of Boakye Agyarko as Minister of Energy; and this appears to have incensed his fellow party members.
After Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central, had gone on pro-NDC Radio Gold to make the wild allegation on Friday, Alhaji Muntaka shot the issue down the following day when he denied flatly ever giving money to the minority members on the committee, which is vetting ministers nominated by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to serve in the NPP government.
Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, a minority member of the committee, is also said to have said on Montie Fm, a sister station of Radio Gold, that he didn’t know anything about the alleged bribe, even though he was supposed to have benefitted.
According to Ayariga, Muntaka had said that the money was given to him by the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Joe Osei-Owusu – who is also the First Deputy Speaker and insisted later that Mr. Osei-Owusu had confirmed to him (Ayariga) that the money came from Mr. Agyarko.
The wild allegation was flatly denied by Mr. Osei-Owusu and Alhaji Muntaka as well as Boakye Agyarko.
DAILY GUIDE learnt that the whole bribery scandal is also aimed at testing the leadership of Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader, as some people are allegedly trying to undermine him.
Haruna Iddrisu, the NDC MP for Tamale South, has broken his silence and said he supports full-scale investigation into the bribery allegation as Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had earlier called for.
Full Scale Investigation
Haruna Iddrisu said during the vetting of the Minister-designate for Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Anthony Akoto-Osei that he was in support of a full-scale investigation into the bribery scandal that has rocked the Appointments Committee, saying the scandal has the potential to undermine the integrity of parliament.
Apart from Mahama Ayariga, a number of NDC MPs have come out to claim that Muntaka gave them money which they were emphatic was coming from Mr. Agyarko and virtually called him (Muntaka) a liar.
MPs like Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (North Tongu) and Alhassan Suhuyini (Tamale North) have variously claimed that indeed they were given envelopes.
Tamale Central MP, Inusah Fuseini, was on Joy FM saying that “Alhaji Muntaka is not being candid.”
He said he had spoken to the key actors in the scandal and could say on authority that the Minority Chief Whip lied when he said he did not give any money to Mahama Ayariga.
“When I spoke to him, I realized he was worried. He feels that the integrity of parliament is more important than uncovering the rot,” Fuseini said adding, “He places the integrity of parliament higher and would rather cover up.”
He wondered why Muntaka would swear by ‘Allah’ on the matter and suggested it was not necessary.
According to Inusah Fuseini, all the minority members on the Appointments Committee were each called and paid the amount and added that at the point of receipt they all knew it was not the sitting allowance because allowances are only paid quarterly, contrary to the claim by Ayariga that they received the money initially believing it was their sitting allowance.
He also revealed that it was Samson Ahi, NDC MP for Bodi, who later told the minority MPs that the money came from the Energy Minister-designate – something that might have forced them to return the money.
Okudzeto Ablakwa also entered the fray, saying that Alhaji Muntaka lied when he said the minority members were never given any amount of money.
“Truly, we were given money…I was shocked when Muntaka denied the bribery allegation. Someone called to inform me but I was shocked until later in the day when I heard the tape…I must say I wasn’t surprised, I was shocked…,” he said.
“Initially, we thought the money was our allowances because the previous day, the minority leader said he had raised a memo to demand our allowances, but we started hearing rumours that the money was coming from Agyarko…Samson Ahi, Eric Opoku, Mahama Ayariga went to the minority leader to ask if indeed it was coming from one of the nominees – Boakye Agyarko – and he confirmed it,” he added.
Ablakwa continued, “We held a minority caucus meeting and we agreed that we cannot accept any money from the nominee…I returned my money to Hon Muntaka, and I have a witness, that day; Nii Lante Vanderpuiye was in his office and he can confirm that I returned my envelope.”
Okudzeto Ablakwa disclosed that he personally handed the money over to Muntaka in the latter’s office in the presence of the Odododiodioo MP, Edwin Nii Lante Vanderpuiye, and had since been shocked to hear his leader denying he distributed monies to the minority MPS.
“I returned my money and that of Mahama Ayariga to Muntaka in his office. Hon Nii Lante Vanderpuye was in his office when I returned it. He said to me that ‘you have brought your money and that is good;’ some have brought theirs and I am waiting to collect all of them and return them…,” he said.
The MP also said that he has no issues against Boakye Agyarko, hence won’t tell a lie against him.
“I don’t have any issue with anybody because I have gone through this vetting twice and the NPP minority then didn’t do this to me so why would I want to cook this story against anybody? There were fourteen people so why would we want to tell a lie about just him, knowing very well that the Bible says ‘don’t bear false witness against your neighbor,’” he posited.
By William Yaw Owusu