General News of Wednesday, 11 April 2018
Opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central in the Upper East Region, Mahama Ayariga, has thrown a challenge to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) over the double salary scandal that has rocked some NDC officials, who served under President John Mahama.
Mr Ayariga confirmed a police invitation asking him to come to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service to assist in an ongoing investigation into the allegation that between January 2013 and December 2016 when he was a minister of state, he received salaries as an MP and also as minister of state.
The act, according to the police, “is contrary to Section 124(1) of the Criminal and other Offence Act 1960 (Act 29) as amended in 2012 (Act 849). Section 124 relates to the offence of stealing.”
Political witch hunting
Instead of honouring the invitation, he has rather written to the IGP, asking the police to furnish him with the details of the person (s) making the allegation, and failing that he is asking his lawyers to sue those who made the claims, adding that “the police are embarking on what he called “political witch hunting.”
Mr Mahama Ayariga, in his letter, which was copied to the speaker, the leadership of parliament, the Attorney General’s Department, among others, denied the allegation of stealing before threatening legal action.
He said the charge the police are trying to bring against him “are basic matters of public record you can easily find out from the Hansard of Parliament and the Office of the President.”
Mr Mahama Ayariga insisted, “To assist you with the investigation, let it be known that no single Member of the Parliament of Ghana from 1993 to date, including New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament and NDC Members of Parliament, ever knew their salaries, allowances, facilities and privileges until the last months of their 4 years’ stay in Parliament when the various Presidents and Parliaments have acted under Article 71 to determine those salaries, allowances, facilities and privileges; and they are communicated to the appointees,” he fired.
He said that every salary or allowance that has been advanced to all MPs since 1993 has been advance payment done pending the determination, pursuant to Article 71, of the actual salary, allowance, facilities and privileges that that person is entitled to, and said the same had been for all ministers of state, who served under NDC administrations and the NPP administration.
“They have all not known their actual salaries, allowances, facilities and privileges until the Presidents and Parliaments have acted pursuant to article 71 in the last months of their administrations in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016,” he averred.
Mahama Ayariga said to the best of his knowledge, the Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD) computes the total entitlement of each MP for the entire four years and also deducts and validates every single payment advanced to the MPs within the period, saying, “A determination of the ex-gratia is made based on the emoluments determined under Article 71.
“Should the total payments made by both Parliament and the Office of the President to a Minister/MP or Deputy Minister/MP exceed the moneys entitled by that person as emoluments as determined under Article 71, a reconciliation is done, and the CAGD would withhold an amount of that person’s ex-gratia equal to the excess advance payment and the remaining amount of the ex-gratia, if any, then paid to the Minister/MP or Deputy Minister/MP,” Mr Ayariga explained.
He stated, “It is obvious that at the time when a Member of Parliament who is serving also as a Minister or Deputy Minister is being advanced any payment by Parliament or the CAGD, before Article 71 determination is made, he or she cannot be legally said to have stolen any public money because all payments are advances pending actual determination of their entitlements.”
The opposition MP said cheekily, “To further assist you with your ‘investigation (or political witch hunting),’ if there is any such need, I request you to furnish me with evidence that after Article 71 determination of my emoluments, all total advances paid to me exceeded my total entitlements as determined subsequent to the President and Parliament acting in compliance with Article 71.”
He said that for the police to prove to him that they were not embarking on political witch hunting because he belongs to the NDC, “kindly also invite all previous Ministers/MPs under both NDC and NPP administrations and crosscheck same.
“To prevent future political witch hunting of the type you are engaged in now, kindly advise Parliament and the President to cease all on-going payment of salaries of parliamentarians and ministers until Parliament and the Presidency comply with Article 71. Perhaps, receipt of such on-going payments amounts to stealing since they have not been lawfully determined.”
Mr Ayariga averred, “If I am unable to ‘confer with’ (Addo-Danquah (Mrs.) the Director-General/CID on Thursday, 19th April, 2018 at 11:00 am as requested in your letter, it might be because I don’t understand what, in law, ‘confer with’ means in the context of criminal investigations.
“The conduct of the police constitutes political harassment simply because I am a Member of Parliament (MP) elected on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and a former appointee of the NDC administration led by President John Dramani Mahama.”
However, he said he would honour the invitation with his lawyers.