The stage is set for what could be a test of the Legislature’s integrity as the claimants of a bribery allegation and the Majority both push for probe into the matter.
Deputy Majority Leader, Sarah Adwoa Safo, told Joy News the Privileges Committee of Parliament is very likely to be called in to ascertain the veracity of the allegation made by MP for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga.
However, Mr Ayariga, backed by two other Minority MPs – Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyin – has also petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Mike Ocquaye, to “carry out an internal enquiry into the veracity of the claims” that they were given money to approve the nomination of a minister-designate whose approval was stalling.
The Bawku Central MP claimed on Friday that Mr Boakye Agyarko, the minster-designate for Energy, gave him and other members of the Appointments Committee GHȻ3,000 in a bid to get them to approve his nomination.
He told Accra-based Radio Gold that his colleagues from the Minority received the cash thinking it was their sitting allowance for being on the Appointments Committee, but when he and some of his colleagues found out that the money was coming from the minister-designate, they returned it.
Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak Mohammed, who Mr Ayariga claims handed out the bribe money, has denied any such action by him.
Mr Agyarko and Mr Osei-Owusu have also denied knowledge of the claims against them.
Although Mr Agyarko’s nomination for the Energy Ministry portfolio was eventually approved by the Appointments Committee shortly after the allegations became public, he has indicated he will head to Court to file defamation charges against Mr Ayariga.
With his words pitched against the whole of Parliament, Mr Ayariga is consoled by the support of two out of the ten Minority MPs on the Appointment Committee.
Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu Constituency and Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini, MP for Tamale North Constituency are the only members of the Minority who have corroborated the scalding allegations.
Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa
“We, the three Members of Parliament, will subject ourselves fully to the processes of the enquiry,” they stated in the joint petition to the Speaker.
The Deputy Majority Leader, Sarah Adwoa Sarfo, thinks the claim is a muck that has been smeared on the whole Parliament and cannot be pushed aside.
“If nothing of the sort has happened and you go and put it out there in the media to paint bad picture about the Majority, at the end of the day the Majority is part of Parliament and if the integrity of Parliament is being put into disrepute, it goes against all of us,” she laments.
She said the leadership of both sides of the House will be meeting over the matter in the course of the week, with a call on the recently constituted Privileges Committee to look into the matter, high on the agenda.
Why Agyarko’s nomination was stalled
As of Thursday, Boakye Agyarko and Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo were the two ministers designate whose approval was hanging.
Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu had explained that the two had unfinished business with the committee following unsubstantiated claims they made during their vetting.
According to him, the claim by Agyarko that the World Bank put pressure on the ex-president John Mahama to pull back on a gasification policy was untrue and he must provide evidence to the contrary.
He also said the figures given by Agyarko as debts owed by VRA and the ECG were inaccurate.
On Osafo Maafo, the Minority wanted him to acquit himself of a potentially divisive ethnic comment he is alleged to have made before giving him the nod.
Mr Marfo has denied ever making any divisive comment.