A freelance journalist who petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) over the recent bribery allegation in Parliament is unhappy with the response given him.
Listowell Nana Poku said the failure of the Commission to investigate the claim under the pretext that Parliament had set up a committee to deal with the matter is regrettable.
Speaking to Evans Mensah, host of Joy FM’s Top Story programme Friday, he said Parliament should not be regarded as the entity to investigate the matter.
“I think I have to let CHRAJ believe that what Parliament is doing is much ado about nothing,” he said.
Nana Kusi-Poku formerly the Director of Communications for the United Front Party (UFP) petitioned CHRAJ on February 3 following the revelation that the sum of GHC3,000 was given to members of Parliament’s Appointments Committee to approve the nomination of Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko.
Bawku Central Member of Parliament (MP) who made the claim on Accra-based Radio Gold said National Democratic Congress (NDC) members on the Committee returned their share after they were told the money came from Mr Agyarko.
Two members of Parliament’s leadership – First Deputy Speaker Joseph Osei-Owusu and Minority Chief Whip Mohammed Muntaka – who were implicated in the matter have said they never gave any money to the MP.
A five-member Special Committee was put up by Parliament to investigate the matter to reveal the authenticity of the Bawku Central MP’s claim. Railways Development Minister, Joe Ghartey was made the Chairman of the Committee.
Nana Kusi-Poku in his petition questioned the committee set up by Parliament to probe the allegations considering the MPs implicated are members of the House.
But CHRAJ in its preliminary assessment of the petition said it would allow Parliament, which is one of the three arms of government, to finish its work before it would decide on what to do.
“CHRAJ has taken note of the commencement of the Ad hoc Committee’s sittings and expresses its satisfaction with the recourse to public hearing and broadcast of its proceedings via television and radio as a means of ensuring transparency of its proceedings. Indeed, the procedure adopted by the Committee is consistent with CHRAJ’s position as articulated in an interview granted the Daily Graphic by Mr Joseph Whittal, Commissioner of CHRAJ when the news broke.
Furthermore, CHRAJ would like to restate its previous position regarding the legal basis for deferring to Parliament as a body clothed with the mandate to investigate any matter of public importance as permitted under its Standing Orders (Standing Order 195) and in this instance to undertake an internal enquiry arising from a petition from three Honourable Members of the House addressed to the RT. Honourable Speaker of Parliament raising allegations against some of their Colleagues,” CHRAJ’s response read.
Displeased by the Commission’s response, Nana Kusi-Poku said the matter could be covered up if CHRAJ fails to act despite the Parliamentary inquirty.
“CHRAJ is not a law unto themselves…the matter at stake is a bribery scandal that we need to uncover,” he said.
He could not believe why Parliament which is the accused is at the same time acting as the prosecutor, adding nothing would come out of its inquiry.
Nana Kusi-Poku has vowed to push further for CHRAJ to reconsider its decision so that it would take up an independent investigation of the issue.