The Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga has been found guilty of contempt of Parliament, following investigations into bribery allegations against the Appointments Committee.
Considering its observations from the investigation, the five member Joe Ghartey committee concluded 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.”
The Committee’s report, which was laid before Parliament yesterday [Wednesday] also recommended that Mr. Ayariga be reprimanded by the Speaker of the House.
The report said, “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).”
It further recommended that Mr. Ayariga “renders an unqualified apology to the House, purging himself of contempt.”
The Joe Ghartey committee arrived at its conclusion because “Mr. Mahama Ayariga failed to prove that indeed Hon. Boakye Agyarko gave money to Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu to be distributed to Members of the Appointments Committee with a view to bribe them.”
Sanctions are adequate
The Committee further held that its sanctions against Mr. Ayariga were fair.
According to the report, “the Committee took notice of the fact that the Hon. Mahama Ayariga is not known to have engaged in acts that tend to disrupt the smooth proceedings of Parliament. Neither does he have a penchant or reputation of engaging in activity which can bring the image and dignity of Parliament into disrepute. Accordingly, we view the recommendation relating to the sanctions adequate in the circumstances.”
Background to bribery allegations
The Railways Development Minister, also former Attorney-General, Joe Ghartey, was tasked to lead the five-member committee approved by Parliament, to investigate the bribery scandal.
The genesis of the bribery scandal stemmed from a Minority member of the Committee, Mahama Ayariga, who alleged that Mr. Agyarko, attempted to bribe the ten minority members on parliament’s Appointments Committee with GHc3000 each to ensure the approval of his nomination as the Energy Minister.
Prior the alleged bribery, Mr. Ayariga, the Bawku Central MP, had narrated that Minority members on the committee had confronted the Chairman of the committee about their sitting allowance. This was followed by them taking receipt of the money which they thought it was to cater for the purpose.
But they returned the money when they realised that it was instead coming from Mr. Agyarko, who the Minority had refused to approve because of some alleged derogatory comments he made about former President John Mahama during his vetting.
The MP for Tamale North, Alhassan Suhuyini and the MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, backed Mr. Ayariga’s claims and joined him to petition the Speaker of Parliament to thoroughly investigate the bribery claims against Mr. Agyarko.
In the immediate aftermath of the allegations, the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joe Osei Owusu had said he was privy to an admission that the bribery claims were fabricated.
Mr. Osei Owusu, also the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, said a confession had been made to the effect that the allegation was made by some Minority members to settle scores, following prior claims by the Majority side that Mr. Mahama was corrupt.
The Chairman was himself implicated in the scandal with Mr. Ayariga alleging that he served as a courier for the bribe money which was given to the Minority Chief Whip, Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka for onward disbursement; a claim Mr Suhuyini and Mr Ablakwa both confirmed.
But the Chief Whip and the Committee’s Chairman vehemently denied the claims.
By: Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonline.com/Ghana