The Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper says the bribery claims made by Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga were intended to hurt the reputation of Parliament.
Abdul Malik Kweku Baako said the allegation, which triggered a Parliamentary probe, was an “invitation to embark on a wild goose chase.”
He told Samson Lardy Anyenini on Joy FM/MultiTV’s news analysis programme Newsfile Saturday, the legislator peddled the allegation to disparage Parliament.
Opinion is divided after the Joe Ghartey Committee set up to investigate the bribery claim presented its report Thursday dismissing the claims as lacking merit.
The Committee told legislators it found no evidence to support Mr Ayariga’s allegation that GHC3,000 was given to minority MPs on Parliament’s Appointments Committee.
The Bawku Central MP had said he received the money and returned same after he was told the money was a gift from Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko whose nomination was under consideration.
According to him, the said amount was given to him by Minority Chief Whip Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak who told him it was coming from First Deputy Speaker Joe Osei Owusu. The three men whose names were mentioned vehemently denied the allegation.
The claim gained prominence and Ghanaians called for an independent probe to establish its veracity. Acting on the public outcry and a motion filed by Mr Osei Owusu, Speaker of Parliament Professor Aaron Mike Ocquaye set up a five-member Committee to go into it.
After close to two months of investigation, the Committee said, “there was no evidence that money was given to MPs [with intention bribing them].”
It also said Mr Ayariga’s claim that the money was given to him by Mr Muntaka was not true, adding the Bawku Central MP acted on a rumour.
“There is no evidence that this committee can rely on that First Deputy Speaker Joe Osei Owusu gave money to Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka,” Mr Ghartey said when he read the report.
Due to his failure to prove the allegations, the Committee went ahead to find Mr Ayariga guilty of contempt as spelt out in Article 112 of the 1992 Constitution as well as Order eight of Parliament’s Standing Orders.
It recommended to Parliament to “reprimand” the MP and demand an apology for the “deadly injury” he has caused the image of the House.
Minutes after the delivery of the report, Parliament was thrown into confusion with Tamale North MP Alhassan Suhuyini challenging other MPs over the Committee’s report. He said justice was not served.
Mr Ayariga himself has been dissatisfied with the work done by the Committee especially the contempt finding against him.
But Mr Baako said the claim was dead on arrival because of the absence of evidence to substantiate it.
He wondered what the Bawku Central was told before he was handed the alleged GHC3,000. “You are an MP…at the point of receipt of the money what were you told by the giver?”
He said if the money was intended to bribe, the “transmission bearer” would have notified the receiver about the mission that is to be accomplished.
North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said the Committee did not establish the truth of the matter because of the refusal to invite witnesses of Mr Ayariga.
The Committee had said it will invite witnesses to the matter, but the former Deputy Education Minister said, “Those members were not offered the opportunity as portrayed.”