The Member of Parliament for Tamale Central, Inusah Fuseini has held up calls for independent investigation into allegation that some of his colleagues last year, received GH 100,000 from the National Lottery Authority, after deliberating on amendments of the Lotteries Act 2006, (Act 722).
The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) in a joint statement issued Thursday, called for an independent probe into the possible bribery scandal that has hit Parliament and the Lottery Authority.
It followed exposé by Joy FM’s Super Morning Show host, Kojo Yankson, who intercepted a series of emails in which Head of Legal Department at the NLA, David Lamptey requested then Director General, Brigadier General Martin Ahiaglo (Rtd.) to authorise the release of a total sum of ?150,000 to facilitate passage of the amendments in the Act 722, in 2016.
In the email, Mr. Lamptey indicated the funds were intended to be used to “push” the bill to ensure its smooth passage by the legislature.
Justifying the move, Mr. Lamptey then told Kojo Yankson in an interview that the money was used on accommodation and other resources when the NLA organised a workshop for members of the Finance Committee of Parliament on the Bill at Royal Senchi Hotel in the Eastern region last year.
Former Chair of the Committee, James Klutse Avedzi admitted receiving the money but maintained he received only ?100,000 from the NLA and not 150,000. The remaining ?50,000 is yet to be accounted for. He told Joy FM the money was paid to them as allowance/per diem contradicting the NLA’s claim it was expended on hotel accommodation.
Speaking on Joy FM’s weekly news analysis programme Newsfile, Saturday July 1, 2017, Mr. Inusah Fuseini said the development “has actually cast a negative image on parliament”.
The former Minister for Lands and Natural Resources in the erstwhile John Mahama administration, questioned why the MPs will agree to the NLA’s decision to organise the the workshop in Senchi and receive money while “the very sitting you are having, parliament recognizes it [and] you are paid allowance”.
“Why would they take it to Senchi; how many members attended the brainstorming session before it was submitted to the house?
“I am tempted to support the need for investigation into the case,” he yielded.
Andrew Egyapa Mercer
His colleague on the side of the Majority and MP for Sekondi, Andrew Agyapa Mercer, however, doubts if the Parliamentarians would allow themselves to be dishonestly persuaded.
“If you look at the quantum of money that was being alleged to be given to Finance Committee members…really is it a bribe? Do committees of parliament pass laws? They don’t,” he stated.
He said the fact that the Bill was not even passed before the previous Parliament was dissolved, is enough proof that the money was not given to them as bribe to hurry the Bill.
Mr. Mercer vehemently stated that: “It is practically impossible to bribe a committee to push a bill”.
Prof. Stephen Adei
Dean of Arts and Sciences at the Ashesi University, Prof. Stephen Adei who participated in the discussions suggested the state should consider building resort outside Accra where once a while, Parliamentarians can move to hold committee sittings.
According to him, “there is the need occasionally, for parliamentarians to be out of their immediate environment” so they can deliberate on issues without unnecessary interference.
This he noted, could limit the possibility of the MPs finding themselves in such situation and go a long way to help in improving the “integrity and reputation of parliament”.