How It Went Down at First Public hearing of the Probing Committee on Ayariga’s Claims
Parliament’s special probing committee set up to investigate into Ayariga’s bribery claims controversy held its first public hearing on Wednesday February 15. As expected, nothing new came out of the hearing which is still far from its closure, as the so called implicated persons have maintained their respective stands on the issue.
Three minority members serving on the Appointments Committee; Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Alhassan Suhuyini and Mahama Ayariga alleged that Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko attempted to bribe them after his vetting process, in order to have his nomination as minister approved.
The alleged attempted bribery by Boakye Agyakor, to minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) members in Parliament, has provoked a firestorm of controversy and outrage in the parliament and the nation at large. Owing to the escalating controversy motivated by different versions of events from stakeholders; a five-member committee was set up to investigate the corruption allegations.
Joe Osei-Owusu’s Stand
It can be recalled that First Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Parliament’s Appointment’s committee, Joe Osei-Owusu; and Minority Chief Whip Mohammed Muntaka were implicated in the bribery saga. This was after it was alleged by Bakwu central MP Mahama Ayariga, that they received the sum of GHC100,000 from Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko as bribe money for his approval.
Joe Owusu was accused by Ayariga to be the one who received the said amount from Agaryko for the purpose of sharing it among the Minority MPs -GHc 3,000 each. Ayariga further claimed that after they were told the money was offered the committee by the Energy Minister Agyakor whose approval was being challenged, the minority members returned their share to Mr Muntaka.
However, during the first public hearing of probing committee on Ayariga’s claims, First Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Parliament’s Appointment’s committee, Joe Osei-Owusu, reiterated his innocence in the controversial scandal.
Responding to questions before Parliament’s Special Investigation Committee on Wednesday, Mr. Owusu maintained his stand as he reiterated his shock and uneasiness, following his implication in the scandal. He also drew the attention of the investigation committee on the report that Bakwu Central MP Ayariga, made the claims to get even with the Majority NPP; regarding the statements the Energy Minister made about former President John Mahama.
It can be recalled that Mr Boakye Agyarko during his vetting session, threw jabs at the former President, saying that he (Mahama) chose corruption over the interest of the country, in some of his government decisions.
Ablakwa says the Claims were made to get even?
Mr. Owusu also said that he had been calmed down after Ablakwa gave the impression that the allegations were a mere political retaliation to Boakye Agyakor’s intimation during vetting that ex President Mahama was corrupt. Osei Owusu pointed out that he had wanted to push for further investigation on the matter; but dropped his insistence when Ablakwa made the statement indicating the minority’s plan to get even.
However Mr. Owusu who had thought the matter had been put to rest, said he got the greatest surprise when he received subsequent reports that Mahama Ayariga had taken to social media to claim that the bribery allegations were true.
Despite denial by minority Chiefwip Muntanka and Osei Owusu, Ayariga’s claims heightened hence, the emergence of the special probing committee -which is chaired by Essikadu/Keta MP, Joe Ghartey.
The probing committee on Ayariga’s claims was set up according to Parliament’s standing Order 191, which indicates that the House may at any time, by motion constitute a special committee to investigate any matter of public importance. The speaker of the house Prof. Ocquaye while ruling on the bribery scandal had explained that the emergence of the committee was due to the weight of the claims made by Bakwu Central MP Ayariga.