Bawku Central Member of Parliament, Mahama Ayariga says minority members of Parliament’s Appointments Committee currently vetting nominees for various portfolios in the new government have had to return an amount of GH¢3000.00 doled out to each of them ostensibly to bribe them.
Ayariga told Radio Gold on Friday that they had initially been handed the money by the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak (MP, Asawase) and assumed it was sitting allowance for members of the committee, only to later hear that the money had come from Energy Minister nominee, Mr. Boakye Agyarko, to influence his approval for the post.
Agyarko has denied the accusation and told Graphic Online he will have his lawyer respond to the charge.
Agyarko was vetted last week but has had his approval frozen because the minority members are insisting he provides evidence of certain claims he made while before the committee, including claims of corruption against former President John Mahama who he also said was pressured by the World Bank to take certain decisions.
But Ayariga says the only logical conclusion for Agyarko to offer the committee money was to influence their decision, given that Agyarko does not usually give them money and has no business transaction with them out of which accruing dividends had to be shared.
“On Tuesday you know we had Appointments Committee sitting to consider a number of nominees and at the end of the sitting, normally we have our own closed-door meeting to evaluate the various nominees who appear before us and I think some members raised the issue of our allowance for sitting beyond the normal hours and working during the weekend and the Chairman of the committee (Joseph Osei-Owusu, MP for Bekwai) assured us that he had prepared a memo and was going to access funds to pay the sitting allowances of the members. So we were expecting that - no I think either yesterday or the day before yesterday, our chief whip, Hon. Muntaka called us and said that the chairman had brought some money and so we should pass by and pick our money.
“So we passed by and individually we were given three thousand Ghana cedis (GH¢3000.00) which we assumed was the allowance due us as committee members but somehow yesterday we started hearing rumours that it wasn’t the allowances that should be given to us from Parliament, it was some other source. So this morning we had a meeting and during the meeting we raised the issue with our Chief Whip and asked what was the source of the money, in fact we raised the issue with him yesterday, some of us raised the issue with him yesterday and he said he was going to check with the chairman, because he had also assumed that it was the sitting allowance that he had given him to give to us.
“So we raised the issue this morning again and he said he had met with the chairman and the chairman had said that it was from Boakye Agyarko who is a nominee, whereupon we as a minority said no, no, we were not interested in his money, he should take the money and return it to the chairman to give it back to Agyarko so we gave the money back to our Chief Whip and asked him to send it back to the Chairman to give it to Mr. Agyarko. So those are the facts that I know. I don’t know much beyond that. I wasn’t there when the money was handed over, all I know is that we were told that that was coming from him and we said we were not interested and we returned the money back to our whip to send it back to the chairman of the committee.”
Asked how he could conclude that the money was intended as bribe, Ayariga who burst into laughter, was unequivocal.
“Well, I mean the logical conclusion of course Agyarko doesn’t normally give us money… so Agyarko, [we did] no business transaction with Agyarko for which dividends had come and he is supposed to share with us and so the only logical conclusion one could arrive at, you know, is that this is money intended to influence us especially since we had withheld his approval based on certain grounds. So we took a decision that we are not taking anything from anybody, we will take our normal sitting allowances as a committee and so our leader should be mindful anytime that the chairman brings any money.”
On the phone Friday evening, Agyarko told Graphic Online Editor, Isaac Yeboah that he was at the Flagstaff House getting ready for a meeting and could be available thereafter to speak to the issue but maintained "I will deal with it. We will deal with it. I'll have my lawyer respond to it."
The 26-member Appointments Committee has the following membership:
Joseph Osei-Owusu (MP for Bekwai and First Deputy Speaker) – Chairman
Adwoa Safo (MP for Dome Kwabenya and Deputy Majority Leader)
Kwesi Ameyaw Cheremeh (MP for Sunyani East and Majority Chief Whip)
Dominic Nitiwul (MP for Bimbilla)
Samuel Atta Kyea (MP for Abuakwa South)
Matthew Opoku Prempeh (Manhyia South)
Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover (MP for Tema East)
Ursula G. Owusu-Ekuful (MP Ablekuma West)
Joseph Kofi Adda (Navrongo Central)
Joseph Cudjoe (Effia)
Patricia Apeagyei (Asokwa)
O.B. Amoah (Akwapim South)
Kofi Amoako Hene (Atebubu)
Anthony Karbo (Lawra)
Barbara Asher Ayisi (Cape Coast South)
Micheal Yaw Gyato (Krachie)
Haruna Iddrisu (Minority Leader and MP for Tamale South) – Ranking Member,
Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak (Minority Chief Whip and MP for Asawase)
Mahama Ayariga (Bawku Central)
Sampson Ahi (Bodi)
Eric Opoku (Asunafo South)
Bernice Adiku Heloo (Hohoe)
Joseph Yieleh Chireh (Wa West)
Edwin Nii Lantey Vanderpuye (Odododiodioo)
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (North Tongu)
Alhassan Suhuyini (Tamale North)