Speaker of Parliament Prof. Mike Ocquaye
Ghana Integrity Initiative has revived calls for the passage of the Conduct of Public Officers’ Bill following bribery allegations against some Members of Parliament.
The GII Executive Director Linda Ofori Kwafo believes the passage of the bill which has been in Parliament since 2014, will help sanction public officers who misconduct themselves.
Five MPs have been named in a bribery saga under investigation by s special ad-hoc committee of parliament .
The investigations were triggered by Bawku Central MP who claimed he returned a GHC 3,000 bribe to the Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mubarak whom he claimed got the money from the First Deputy Speaker Joe Osei Owusu.
The money according to Ayariga was intended to influence him to approve the Energy Minister nominee Boakye Agyarko after he was vetted by the Appointments Committee. He mentioned two other MPs Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Alhassan Suhuyini as his witnesses.
Linda Ofori Kwafo said while bribery allegations in parliament are not new, this saga presents a window of opportunity for a better more comprehensive investigations to be conducted on the matter. She said her outfit is keeping a keen interest on the saga and will ensure the matter is not swept ‘under the carpet’.
The GII is waiting to take up the matter after Parliament’s ad hoc committee completes its work. If the allegation of bribery is confirmed by the committee, the GII will report the matter to the police for investigations.
‘A bribe is a crime’, she stressed.
But a more holistic approach to fighting corruption within the public space is the passage of the Conduct of Public Officers’ Bill to ensure an effective ethical governance.
A public officer found to have violated the code may be barred from holding public office for a specific period, depending on the gravity of the behaviour.
The bill is to give legal backing to the code launched by President Mahama in July 2013. The code was launched following an embarrassing recording of private conversations by the driver of dismissed Deputy Communications Minister, Victoria Hammah.
But by November 2016, President Mahama was accused of violating his own code of conduct after accepting a Ford Expedition gift from a Burkinabe contractor.
Codes of conduct for public officers are not new. CHRAJ in 2006 launched the Code of Conduct for Public Officers of Ghana and Guidelines on Conflict of Interest based on Chapter 24 of the 1992 Constitution.
Article 284 of Chapter 24 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.”