General News of Monday, 20 February 2017
Bawku Central MP Mahama Ayariga has disclosed he has never in his life spoken to Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko following a bribery allegation he has made against the leadership of the Appointments Committee and Mr Agyarko.
Mr Ayariga, a member of the Appointments Committee, has alleged that Minority MPs rejected GHS3000 given to them by Mr Joe Osei-Owusu, chairman of the Appointments Committee, through Minority Chief Whip Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, after they had found out the money was coming from Mr Agyarko, then Minister-designate, to induce the NDC MPs to approve his nomination after he appeared before the committee.
However, Mr Ayariga, who appeared before the Ghartey Committee on Monday, 20 February, the body established by parliament to probe the bribery allegation, told the committee he never dealt with Mr Agyarko and had never spoken to him.
“I have never in my life spoken with him, never. The first time I was seeing him physically as a politician and as somebody who goes on air and also on television and on radio was when he appeared before the committee. [That] was the first time I was physically engaging him,” he told the committee.
Mr Ayariga, on Friday 27 January, told Radio Gold in an interview that the Minority MPs first accepted the money because they were under the impression that the money was their sitting allowance but got alarmed and decided to return the money after they heard rumours that the money was coming from Mr Agyarko.
“We were expecting our committee allowances from the chairman, so, when we were called by our leader to come and take our money, we took it knowing that that is our allowance, so, as for the quantum we cannot tell how much money he [Mr Agyarko] might have given to the chairman, so, there are all sort of speculations about what sort of quantum he is alleged to have given, but what we know is what came to us as individuals, that is what we can bear testimony to: whether it’s GHS1 or GHS2, no matter how small it is, what we know is what was given to us and we found out later that it was coming from him, so, as for the quantum, it’s not important.
For me the most important thing is that we were expecting to be given our committee sitting allowances, and we were promised by our chairman that it will come very soon, and we were called to pick up money from our Whip, we picked it up and assumed that it was our allowances and then later we heard rumours in the house and we called our leader and asked him: where is the money coming from? He said it came from the Chairman but chairman said it was coming from Boakye Agyarko, so, that is where we realised that we can’t take money from Boakye Agyarko, so, we asked him to take his money back, we are not interested. The quantum is insignificant, even if he had brought GHS1million, we will still return it to him,” Mr Ayariga alleged.
The bribery allegation followed the reluctance by the Minority side of the Appointments Committee to recommend Mr Agyarko for passage over certain comments he made against former President John Mahama during his vetting.
All the actors named by Mr Ayariga in the bribery scandal have denied anything of the sort ever happened.
Mr Ayariga and two other colleague MPs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Alhassan Suhuyini, subsequently petitioned the Speaker to probe the matter since they insist there was an attempted bribery.