Update: Parliament postpones debate on Ayariga bribery report

Parliament has postponed to tomorrow the approval of the Joe Ghartey Investigative Committee report into allegations of bribery against some members of the Appointment’s Committee.

The house was expected to debate the report for approval on Thursday after the chair of the committee laid it before the house.

However the leadership of the house decided to postpone the debate to allow members to read and study the report.

It is not clear yet what the findings of the report are and the recommendations thereof, but members of the committee are emphatic nothing will be shelved under the carpet.

The Joe Ghartey committee was constituted after allegations by the Bawku Central MP Mahama Ayariga that the Chairman of the Appointment Committee Joe Osei Owusu had given Ȼ3,000 each to minority members of the committee to approve the Minister of Energy nominee at the time.

Ayariga told an Accra based radio Station Radio Gold that the money was given to the Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mubarak for onward distribution to the members of the Minority.

He explained that the Minority MPs on the committee initially accepted the monies thinking it was payment of their sitting allowance but when they got to know it was monies from the Minister designate to bribe them, they returned the money.

Boakye Agyarko was at the time battling to be approved by consensus following a rather combative vetting process.

Approval for both Agyarko and the Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo had both been shelved by the committee following controversial comments they made during the vetting process.

But the bribery allegation by Ayariga, as dramatic as it was, was met with vehement denials by Joe Osei Owusu, Muntaka Mubarak and the Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko.

Mubarak swore by Allah that he neither received any money from Osei Owusu nor did he distribute same to Minority MPs on the committee.

Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko also insisted that he never bribed or even attempted to do same because there was no motivation to bribe, arguing, with the overwhelming majority of the NPP in Parliament he was going to be approved any way even if by majority decision.

He did not see any reason why he should bribe anybody much less members of the minority.  Like the chairman of the Appointment Committee Joe Osei Owusu, he threatened to sue Mahama Ayariga in order to clear his name and reputation.

In the face of the denials, Mahama Ayariga insisted that even though he had been told that the money was to bribe the members of the committee he did not directly receive the monies from Osei Owusu and Boakye Agyarko. However, he maintained the money was paid by his chief whip Muntaka Mubarak.

He and two other members of the committee, Alhassan Suhuyini and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa subsequently petitioned the Speaker Prof Mike Ocquaye to investigate the matter.

The Speaker then constituted the Joe Ghartey Committee to investigate the matter. The committee made up of Ben Abdallah, Offinso South, Ama Pomaah Boateng, Juaben, B.T Baba, Talensi, and Magnus Kofi Amoateng, Yilo Krobo sat in public and heard the key players in the bribery scandal- Joe Osei Owusu, Boakye Agyarko, Muntaka Mubarak, Mahama Ayariga and Okudzeto Ablakwa.

The committee after hearing and cross examining the key witnesses compiled the report which has been presented to Parliament for a debate.

Joy News’ parliamentary correspondent Joseph Opoku Gakpo reports that a motion will be moved later tomorrow to set the debate underway.

Members of the committee are however keeping the details of the report and recommendations close to their chest.

Ben Abdallah told Opoku Gakpo that once the sitting was heard in public every detail of the report will soon be made public for everybody to know what transpired.

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