Mahama Ayariga, Dr Boakye Agyarko, Mohammed Muntaka, Joe Osei Owusu
Mahama Ayariga, Bawku Central Member of Parliament (MP), has been virtually accused of peddling falsehood, having been found guilty of contempt of Parliament in the case of bribery allegations against Members of the Appointments Committee of Parliament.
An ad hoc committee set up by Parliament to probe the bribery allegation chaired by Joe Ghartey stated on the floor of Parliament yesterday that Ayariga failed to adduce any evidence to substantiate his claim of allegations against the members and Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko.
The conclusion split the house into two with the Speaker, Mike Oquaye quickly adjourning sitting to today for final verdict on the committee report, as the Minority side appears to disagree with conclusion even though the report was unanimous.
The Joe Ghartey Committee was constituted after allegations by the Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga that the Chairman of the Appointments Committee Joe Osei Owusu had given GHȻ3,000 each to minority members of the committee to approve the appointment of Minister of Energy Boakye Agyarko after his vetting.
Both denied the allegations during the committee’s hearing, with Ayariga claiming that it was based on rumours.
Ayariga told an Accra-based radio Radio Gold that the money was given to the Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mubarak for onward distribution to the members of the Minority MPs on the committee.
He explained that the Minority MPs on the committee initially accepted the monies thinking it was payment of their allowances.
The five-member Joe Ghartey committee indicated 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.”
Mr Ghartey, MP for Essikado Ketan, said everything Ayariga said was nothing more than rumours, adding that “a multiplicity of rumours does not constitute a fact.”
He said by publishing rumours about bribery allegations against members, Ayariga has in no small way injured the reputation of Parliament and soiled the dignity of the first Deputy Speaker of Parliament Joe Osei Owusu.
Having established a case of contempt, the committee has recommended that the Bawku Central MP be reprimanded in accordance to the Parliamentary regulations and the Constitution of the country.
“The committee, having established a case of contempt against Mr. Mahama Ayariga, as well as having examined the sanctions regime available, recommends to the House that the Hon Member for Bawku Central, Mr. Mahama Ayariga, be reprimanded by the Rt. Hon. Speaker in accordance with section 35 of the Parliament Act, 1965 (Act 300),” the report said.
The report further recommended that Mr. Ayariga renders an unqualified apology to the House, explaining that this would purge him of contempt.
Mr Ghartey said Ayariga can begin by apologising to Parliament for the humiliation caused the House.
Mahama Ayariga virtually rejected the committee report with his unapologetic comments.
He reluctantly rendered the apology, saying “Mr. Speaker, if you say I should apologize, I have apologized.”
Before this apology, he said the committee’s recommendations were problematic, especially when it failed to conduct due diligence by cross examining the “other sides” to arrive at a fair conclusion.
He also questioned the powers of the committee to find him guilty of contempt.
“If you conclude that you want to use the criminal standards then you might as well have, during the proceedings, used the criminal process, which is cross examining the other sides so that you can come to the conclusion that will enable you to exact criminal functions but you did not do that,” he wondered.
Both sides were furious with the turn of events, particularly with the unapologetic stance of Ayariga.