It was a day of insistence on earlier allegations of bribery and denial of the allegations by members of the Appointments Committee of Parliament (ACP) and a minister of state when they appeared before the Joe Ghartey Ad hoc Committee of Parliament yesterday.
The hearing began with the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central and member of the ACP, Mr Mahama Ayariga, who told the committee that the Minority Chief Whip and Deputy Ranking member on the ACP, Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka-Mubarak, had given him GH¢3,000, with the belief that it was a sitting allowance for the ACP sittings.
He said when he heard the rumour that the money was coming from the then Minister designate for Energy, Mr Boakye Agyarko, he said he and his colleague Minority members on the ACP confronted Alhaji Mubarak-Muntaka and asked him to go and find out.
Mr Ayariga said Alhaji Muntaka-Mubarak came back to inform them that the money had come from Mr Agyarko and that it was given to him by the Chairman of the ACP, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu.
He said on hearing that, he and the other Minority members on the ACP returned the money to Alhaji Muntaka-Mubarak to be sent back.
Mr Ayariga said he never received the money from Mr Agyarko or Mr Osei-Owusu or discussed any money matter with them.
Alhaji Muntaka-Mubarak’s denial
When Alhaji Muntaka-Mubarak took his turn, he denied taking any money from Mr Osei-Owusu or Mr Agyarko and giving same to the Minority members on the ACP to influence their decision to support Mr Agyarko’s approval.
Besides, he said, he was never engaged in any attempt to bribe members of the ACP, saying: “I have never received any money intended to influence my colleagues as alleged. I have never been involved in or connected to any attempt to bribe members of the ACP.”
He said he believed that any attempt to bribe members of the ACP was a crime, and as an honourable MP, he would not engage in any such criminality.
Besides, he said, bribery, as an act of criminality, was against his beliefs as a Muslim and that he would not engage in it.
Alhaji Muntaka-Mubarak, who was supported by his counsel, Mr Sampson Lardy Ayenini, had submitted a written statement to the committee denying his involvement in the allegation of bribery.
Mr Agyarko denies giving money
When Mr Agyarko, who is the Minister of Energy, took his seat, he categorically denied giving any money to Mr Osei-Owusu or Alhaji Muntaka-Mubarak to be given to members of the ACP.
“I have never contrived, discussed or given money to Mr Osei-Owusu to influence members to weigh a decision in my favour,” he said.
He said at no point in the vetting did he feel that his nomination was at risk and that he believed he was qualified for the position and had performed well before the committee to get the approval.
He said even if the Minority members did not want to support his approval by consensus, he believed the Majority would use their numbers to approve his nomination through voting.
Therefore, he said, “I had no motive to attempt to influence anybody with regard to my confirmation.”
Mr Agyarko said he had submitted documents to clarify certain statements he had made before the ACP and received a call from the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, that he should see the First Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the ACP, Mr Osei-Owusu, to clarify some points.
He said he and a director at the Ministry of Energy went to meet Mr Osei-Owusu to clarify the relevant portions.
Mr Agyarko said he was at the Flagstaff House waiting for the swearing-in when he received a call that he and the then Senior Minister designate, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, were needed in Parliament.
He said they went to meet the members of the ACP at the Speaker’s lobby and clarified the issues with some documentations.
He said he, particularly, withdrew the suggestion that the World Bank had influenced the decisions of former President John Dramani Mahama and indicated that he and Mr Osafo-Maafo were cleared by the committee then.
Mr Ablakwa refutes claims
The MP for North Tongu and member of the ACP, Mr Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, appeared before the committee to clarify some statements purportedly made against him at the first sitting of the committee by Mr Osei-Owusu.
He told the committee that the statement attributed to him by Mr Osei-Owusu to the effect the he (Mr Ablakwa) had stated at the conclave that the allegation of corruption was for equalisation was not true because he never made such a statement.
He said before then, Mr Osei-Owusu had granted an interview to Joy FM and claimed that it was Mr Ayariga who had made the equalisation statement.
Mr Ablakwa, who was supported by his counsel, Dr Dominic Ayine, sought to give further evidence in the matter but the committee did not grant him that leave.
It asked him to come by a memorandum, but Mr Ablakwa expressed disappointment at the decision.
Genesis of the allegation
In a radio interview, Mr Ayariga had alleged that Alhaji Muntaka-Mubarak had given each member of the Minority on the ACP GH¢3,000.
He said following rumours that the money was brought by Mr Agyarko, he (Mr Ayariga) confronted Alhaji Muntaka-Mubarak about the source and Alhaji Muntaka-Mubarak told him that it was Mr Osei-Owusu who had given the money to him, with the explanation that the money was from Mr Agyarko.
Following the development, Parliament set up the five-member ad hoc committee to investigate the allegation that Mr Osei-Owusu had taken money from Mr Agyarko and given same to Alhaji Muntaka-Mubarak to be given to Minority members on the committee.
The committee is to inquire whether attempts had been made to bribe members of the ACP and also look into any related matters.
It has been given one month to submit its report to Parliament.
It is chaired by the MP for Esikadu/Ketan (NPP) and former Second Deputy Speaker, Mr Joe Ghartey, with Mr Ben Abdallah Banda, MP for Offinso South (NPP); Ms Ama Pomaa Boateng, MP for Juaben (NPP); Mr Magnus Kofi Amoatey, MP for Yilo Krobo (NDC), and Mr Benson Tongo Baba, MP for Talensi (NDC) as the other members.
Mr Osei-Owusu was the first witness to appear before the committee last Wednesday and he denied any involvement in any bribery or attempt to bribe members of the ACP.