Showdown as key witnesses in Parliament bribery claim give testimonies today

The special committee investigating the bribery allegations against three MPs and a minister will resume sitting Monday with two key witnesses making an appearance.

MP for Bawku Centra, Mahama Ayariga, and MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, are expected to give their testimonies today as the quest for truth heats up.

Also, Minister for Energy Boakye Agyarko, who is alleged to have given the bribe money, and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, will be expected to give testimonies today.

Mahama Ayariga has told Joy News he will present nothing but the truth when he makes an appearance, ruling out the possibility to bring in a counsel to guide him in his testimony.

 “If you are going to speak the truth do you need a lawyer to mediate between you and the truth? You don’t need a lawyer. Maybe to guide you…but I know the basic rules so I probably don’t need the assistance of a lawyer to guide me,” he said.

The committee has already sat once, where Chairman of the Appointment Committee that is vetting President Nana Akufo-Addo’s appointees, Joseph Osei-Owusu gave his testimony on the first day of sitting.

Joseph Osei-Owusu

Mr Osei-Owusu is accused of being the conduit for the bribe, an allegation he has vehemently denied.

Mr Ablakwa requested to testify as a witness in the bribery claim following Mr Osei-Owusu’s allegations that Mr Ablakwa had told him the scalding allegation was a joke.

Mr Ablakwa denies ever making such a comment.

Mr Ablakwa’s request to testify also follows revelations by Chairman of the 5-member committee, Joe Ghartey, on Wednesday that Mr. Ablakwa will not be among four witnesses that will be called to testify at the public hearing of the committee.

Mr Ablakwa’s Lawyers wrote to the committee requesting that the legislator be allowed to testify, promising to advise their client to resort to other constitutional and legal options available if he is refused the opportunity to be heard.

The Committee subsequently agreed to call him to give his testimony.

Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike Ocquaye, constituted the 5-member committee to look into allegations by Mr. Ayariga that the Energy Minister, Mr. Boakye Agyarko attempted bribing Minority members on the Appointments Committee with Gh¢3,000 each with the aim to influence his approval as Minister.

Mr. Ayariga further claimed that the money was handed to the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka by the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Mr. Joseph Osei Owusu for onward disbursement, a claim both have denied.

Mr. Ayariga together with Mr. Ablakwa and Tamale South MP, Mr. Alhassan Suhuyini subsequently petitioned the Speaker of Parliament to investigate the claims.

These two were the only Minority members on the Appointment Committee who corroborate Mr. Ayariga’s allegation.

Messers Ayariga (M), Suhuyini (R) and Ablakwa

The other members of the 5-member committee probing the matter are Mr. Ben Abdallah, Mrs. Abena Durowaa Mensah, Mr. Magnus Kofi Amoateng and Mr. Benson Tongo Baba.

The terms of reference of the committee are to establish whether the First Deputy Speaker, Mr. Joseph Osei Owusu took money from the Energy Minister, Mr. Boakye Agyarko and gave it to the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka to the distributed to Members of the Appointments Committee.

It is also to establish whether there was an attempt to bribe Members of the Appointments Committee and to look into the merits of the complaints and assertions made by the First Deputy Speaker, Mr. Joseph Osei Owusu about the matter.