Bribery saga: I won’t recuse myself from Investigative Committee – Joe Ghartey

Railways Development Minister, Joe Ghartey says he would not step down as chairman of Parliament’s bribery Investigative Committee over claims of potential conflict of interest situation.

“Unfortunately, I don’t agree with people who think my sitting here as the Chairman will cause a conflict of interest…I will not recuse myself,” he said.

The former Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament made these remarks Wednesday minutes before the Committee commenced its sitting.

The integrity of Ghana’s legislature has come under scrutiny after it was alleged some Members of Parliament (MPs) were given GHC3,000 to approve the nomination of Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko.

Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga who made the claim said they returned their share of the money after they were told the money was offered them by the Minister.

First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu and Minority Chief Whip Mohammed Muntaka whose names came up in the allegation denied the claim challenging the MP to produce evidence.

A five-member Special Committee was set up to look into the matter following public agitation.

Article 103 (1) of the 1992 Constitution permits the appointment of standing committees and other committees as may be necessary for the discharge of its responsibilities and they have the rights and powers of the High Court.

Mr Ghartey was appointed unanimously to lead the investigation; however, some anti-graft groups have said he would not do an impartial work since he belongs to the House.

Dr Rashid Draman of the African Center for Parliamentary Affairs had called for an independent body to investigate the issues since the House would be unable to do a good work.

But Mr Ghartey said the committee has the jurisdiction to hear the matter because its powers are rooted in the constitution and Standing Orders of Parliament.

He found solace in Article 284 of the Constitution Chapter 24 which states that “A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts or is likely to conflict with the performance of the functions of his office.”

Dismissively he said, ”We are prepared to start the public hearing.”