Bawku Central Member of Parliament  (MP), Mahama Ayariga has offered an unqualified apology to Parliament after being charged with contempt of the house.

Mahama Ayariga offered the apology after the Speaker of the House, Prof Aaron Mike Oquaye delivered his ruling on the matter.

“Pursuant to paragraph 141 of the report of the special committee to investigate the bribery allegation and the decision of this honourable house adopting the report, I hear by render and unqualified apology to this honourable house of Parliament,” he read out the written  apology to the hearing of the members of the Parliament.

The Committee had found Hon. Ayariga guilty of 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 therefore recommended to the Speaker to reprimand him in accordance with Section 35 of the Parliament Act, 1965 (Act 300).

But being a first time offender, the Committee recommended that Hon. Ayariga rendered unqualified apology to Parliament, purging himself of contempt.

Hon. Joe Ghartey’s Committee came to this conclusion having established that Hon. 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.”

On January 31, 2017, the 1st Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu drew the attention of the Rt. Hon. Speaker and the House, to an allegation of bribery made against him and some Members of the Appointments Committee of the Seventh Parliament.

“Mr. Speaker, on Friday, January 27, 2017, at about 3:13pm, while I was in this Chamber waiting for the Sitting of the House to resume following suspension of Sitting earlier in the day, I received a WhatsApp message from a friend in the media, which showed that one Sammy Ablordepey, purporting to report from Parliament reported that Mr. Boakye Agyarko was alleged to have given to Hon. Osei-Owusu, an amount of GH₵100,000 to be doled out to Members to pass him as Minister for Energy. The message further said each Member was given GH₵3,000. The Minority had since returned the money to Hon. Osei-Owusu who had in turn given it back to Mr. Agyarko who was spotted coming to Parliament to collect it from Mr. Osei-Owusu. A very shameful act. And this Mr. Agyarko, criminal calls President Mahama corrupt,” he noted.

After the House had deliberated on Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu’s complaint and contributions from other Members, a Special Committee made up of five-members was set up. The Committee comprised the following Members: Hon. Joe Ghartey (Chairman), Hon. Ben Abdallah Banda (Member), Hon. Ama Pomaa Boateng (member), Hon. Magnus Kofi Amoatey (member) and Hon. Benson Tongo Baba (member).

The Committee was to establish whether the 1st Deputy Speaker, Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu took money from Boakye Agyarko and gave it to the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka to be distributed to Members of the Appointments Committee; Establish whether there were attempts to bribe Members of the Appointments Committee; and Look into the remit of complaints and assertions made by the 1st Deputy Speaker about the matter.

However, Hon. Ayariga, commenting on the decision of the Committee asked the Speaker whether the Committee had the power to come to a conclusion of finding him guilty of contempt of Parliament.

“Does it [Special Committee] have the power to come to conclusion on matters of concern which are clearly spelt out in Order 30, 31 and 32? Facts – not to conclude on contempt because the issues of contempt are clearly defined in the Standing Orders and so that is the first thing I just want to draw your attention to whether the Committee can make findings and come to a conclusion that the provision of contempt have been violated.”

“Mr. Speaker, the second question is they [Special Committee] used criminal standards to determine the burden of proof.  If you conclude that you want to use the criminal standards, then you must as well during the proceedings used criminal process. Which is the criminal process? If you call a witness in any criminal trial, you should also cross examine the other side so that you can come to a conclusion that will enable you exact criminal sanctions – you didn’t do that.”

“Mr. Speaker, if you say I should apologize, I apologize,” he noted.