There was total commotion in parliament on Thursday after the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, was found to be in contempt of the house.
He had alleged that the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Joseph Osei-Owusu, through the minority chief whip, Muntaka Mubarak, had tried to bribe minority members of the committee, but which he was not able to prove before the ad hoc committee set up to investigate the matter.
The five-member committee, chaired by former second deputy speaker of parliament, Joe Ghartey, had found Mahama Ayariga to have been in contempt for peddling unfounded rumours about a committee of parliament. He was asked to apologise to the house but Mahama Ayariga said he would not accept the recommendations of the committee for the contempt which threw the house into total pandemonium with some members on the opposing sides nearly exchanging blows.
The Bawku Central MP had alleged that the current Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko had offered bribe to the minority members on the Appointments Committee to facilitate his approval when he was being vetted.
“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 probe report indicated, and asked him to apologize.
However, his grudging apology was rejected by the MPs.
As at press time yesterday the Bawku Central MP was said to have written an apology letter to the house, begging for forgiveness. The content was however, not known.
Mr. Ayariga was said to have submitted the apology letter through the speaker’s deputy.
He is expected to apologize to Mr Boakye Agyarko for his comments which sought to link him to the bribery saga. He’s also to apologize to the speaker.
The Bawku MP was expected to officially apologize on the floor of parliament and apologize to the first deputy speaker, Joe Osei-Owusu, and the minority chief whip, Mutanka Mubarak, for the bribery claim he made against them.
The members on the minority side were also divided over the decision of the Bawku Central MP not to readily apologise for bringing the image of the institution into disrepute and also nearly exchanged blows, with insults being hurled at one another.
The NDC MP for Tamale North, Suhuyini Alhassan Sayibu, who was fiercely supporting Mahama Ayariga, was seen trading insults with the minority chief whip, Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, and the scene nearly degenerated into something untoward, with the minority chief whip also expressing serious disgust about the conduct of Ayariga, whom he described as his best friend.
The confusion, which for a very long time had not been seen on the floor of parliament, forced the speaker, Prof Mike Oquaye, to adjourn proceedings at about 8:50 pm and told the MOs that he would be giving his final ruling after Ayariga had refused to properly render an apology.
The NDC MP for Lower Manya Krobo, Ebenezer Okletey Terlabi,, was particularly angry with his colleague, Mahama Ayariga, and was seen wildly gesticulating in his direction for the behaviour he put up after a parliamentary body had found him guilty of contempt.
He told DAILY GUIDE that the conduct of the Bawku Central MP left much to be desired and leaves a sour taste in the mouths of fellow MPs.
The minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, after the chairman of the ad hoc committee had presented his report, said it (report) had been diligently prepared and the recommendations should teach members lessons as to what to say and where to say it and how to say it at any point in time.
He said the committee must be applauded for the in-depth investigation into the allegation and the conclusions drawn from the investigation.
Joe Ghartey said the committee used the criminal trial, civil trial and reasonable layman’s standards to investigate and interrogate the bribery allegation and came up with the findings that the Minister of Energy, Boakye Agyarko, never gave such a bribe.
He said the committee also found out that the allegation that the chairman of the Vetting Committee, Joseph Osei-Owusu, gave money to the minority chief whip to be given to the minority members on the committee could not be proven by Ayariga, who made the allegation.
He said it was therefore found out that the allegation of money exchanging hands for minority members on the committee to come to a consensus on the approval of Mr Boakye Agyarko was established to be untrue.
He said evidence given by the MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, that members of the minority on the Appointments Committee who were allegedly given the GH¢3,000 as bribe money and went to the minority chief whip’s office in their numbers to return the money, was also not proven to be true.
Mr Ghartey said the CCTV cameras did not capture that as well.
He said no matter the multiplicity of rumours that were churned out by the minority members on the committee, they (rumours) could never turn into facts.
The committee therefore, said Ayariga’s allegation did not hold water and that it had brought the image of the institution into great disrepute and therefore falls foul of the rules of the house.
Ayariga contested strongly that if those modes of investigation were used to arrive at his guilt, he should have been given the opportunity to cross-examine other witnesses who appeared before the committee, but he was not given the opportunity to do that and so he would not accept the recommendations of the committee.
When he was asked by the speaker to apologise, he was still unrepentant, and said that he was not being treated fairly.
Even when the second deputy speaker of parliament, Alban Bagbin intervened, the Bawku Central MP was still adamant until he unwilling said if he was being pressurized to apologise then what he would say is “Mr speaker if you say I should apologise then I apologise.” The whole house was thrown into chaos, with the majority members lambasting him for showing great disrespect to the speaker.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr