The near-fight witnessed in Ghana’s Parliament Thursday evening after a member of the minority side was found guilty of contempt of the House in a bribery allegation probe was a “normal” occurrence, the Majority Chief Whip, Kwasi Ameyaw Cheremeh has said.
According to him, there was nothing untoward with the fisticuffs that nearly occurred after the Speaker of Parliament ended proceedings.
“They were verbal exchanges…they were verbal exchanges [and] I think it is normal for people to exchange words,” he said Friday on Morning Starr.
“It is better to jaw-jaw than to war-war,” he added.
When Francis Abban, Morning Starr host quizzed “at a point where two men were separated…that is parliamentary?” Mr. Cheremeh replied that he was not aware of that. “I didn’t see that incident you are talking about.”
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) lawmaker for Bawku Central Mahama Ayariga was indicted by a 5-member ad hoc committee after he alleged the chairman of the Appointments Committee Joe Osei Owusu was used as a conduit by the Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko to bribe members to clear him during his vetting.
Ayariga was found culpable for not adducing enough evidence to back his claims and has been asked to “render an unqualified apology” to the Appointments Committee’s chairman and the House, because according to the fact finding committee, he has “gravely injured” the reputation of the committee chairman.
After several protestations, the former Sports Minister stated that “Mr. Speaker if you say I should apologise, I apologise.”
The Speaker, Prof. Mike Oquaye, fixed Friday, March 31, 2017 to rule on the case.
The Committee recommended that Ayariga render an “unqualified apology” to the House and purge himself of the contempt “for gravely injuring” the reputation of the chairman of the Committee Joe Osei Owusu and Parliament.
According to the report, Ayariga “failed to ascertain the veracity of the rumour prior to publishing same. The Committee further observed that as a result of the publication, trust and confidence among members and inter-party cohesion needed for consensus building at the Appointments Committee has broken down considerably.
“Individual members of the Appointments Committee had become suspicious of each other. The chairman of the appointments committee indicated his distrust for Mr. Mahama Ayariga while Alhaji Muntaka stressed that it will be difficult to deal with his accusers.
“The reputation and image of the institution of Parliament has been greatly injured by the allegation. The reputation and dignity of the First Deputy Speaker, other members of the Appointments Committee and that of the Minister for Energy equally suffered considerable damage.”
It added: “As a results of these observations, the committee came to the firm conclusion that Mr. Mahama Ayariga is in contempt of Parliament on the strength of Article 122 of the 1992 Constitution, Section 32 of the Parliament Act (1965) Act 300 and Orders 28 and 30 (2) of the Standing Orders of Parliament.
“The Committee came to this conclusion because Mr. Mahama Ayariga failed to prove that indeed Hon. Boakye Agyarko gave money to Joseph Osei Owusu to be distributed to members of the appointments committee with a view to bribe them.”
The Speaker of Parliament on January 31 constituted the five member committee chaired by Joe Ghartey, a former Attorney General to probe the bribery scandal that rocked the Joe Osei Owusu-led Vetting Committee.
This followed claims by Mr. Ayaria, a member of the committee that Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko tried luring the minority members of the committee with GHC3000 each through the chairman of the vetting committee, Mr. Osei Owusu and the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, so he could be recommended for approval following his edgy vetting.