Reports indicate that the five-member committee appointed to investigate the bribery allegation involving some MPs and a minister of state will be conducted in public.
State-owned newspaper, Daily Graphic, reports in its February 9, 2017, edition reports “a highly placed source” has revealed to make the committee’s work transparent the committee had decided to open up the inquiry to the public.
“It said for that reason, the doors of the committee would be open to the public to afford people the opportunity to appreciate what would transpire,” reports the newspaper.
It is, however, not clear if the committee would also allow live coverage of the hearings on television.
“The source said the committee would leave that to the discretion of media managers,” according to the Daily Graphic report.
It is still not clear when the hearings will begin.
Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga, inflamed passions when alleged that Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko, bribed himself and other MPs on Parliament’s Appointment Committee GHc3,000 in a bid to facilitate is approval for the ministerial portfolio.
Mr Ayariga claimed that Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mohammed and Chair of the Appointment Committee, Joseph Osei-Owusu, knew about the bribe money — claims all three persons cited have denied.
Meanwhile, two Minority MPs, Okudzeto Ablakwa and Alhassan Suhuyini have backed Mr Ayariga’s claims.
Speaker of Parliament, Mike Ocquaye, subsequently up a five-member Committee to probe the alleged bribery attempt.
The Speaker explained that the Committee has become necessary because of the weight of the allegation made by Mahama Ayariga.
Upholding Standing Orders 191 which advises the formation of a special committee to investigate any matter of public importance, the Speaker announced the formation of the high-powered parliamentary special committee to investigate the matter.
The committee members as suggested by the Majority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu agreed to by the Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu and approved by the Speaker are;
(a) Essikadu/Ketan MP, Joe Ghartey as Chairman
(b) Offinso South MP Ben Abdallah Banda
(c) Juaben MP, Ama Pomaa Boateng
(d) Talensi MP, Benson Tongo Baba
(e) Yilo Krobo MP, Magnus Kofi Amoatey
The terms of reference given the Special Committee are;
(a) To establish if First Deputy Speaker Joseph Osei Owusu took money from Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko and gave it to Minority Chief Whip Alhaji Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka.
(b) To do an internal inquiry to find out whether there were attempts to bribe members of Appointments Committee
(d) To look into the remit of complaints and assertions made by First Deputy Speaker about the matter.
The establishment of the Committee comes days after Bakwu Central MP Mahama Ayariga alleged members of the Appointments Committee were offered GHC3,000 to approve Mr Agyarko as the Energy Minister.
He claimed National Democratic Congress (NDC) members on the Committee returned the money to the minority Chief Whip after they were told it was given to them by Mr Agyarko to bribe them.
The two people implicated in the scandal – Mr Osei Owusu and Alhaji Muntaka – have each dismissed the claim describing it as purely a concoction.
Making his official statement on the matter in Parliament Tuesday, Mr Osei Owusu said he was “livid” when Mr Ayariga linked him to the bribery claim.
“NPP has such a huge majority and does not need to pay a bribe in this House,” he noted, adding the need to build consensus on issues in the House is largely to benefit the minority.
He had requested the Speaker to permit him to drag the MP who made the claim to court, but this was turned down.
“I crave your indulgence to permit me to ventilate my grievances in court,” he said.
But Prof Ocquaye said Parliament is empowered to inquire into any matter from “Archaeology to Zoology.”
He assured Ghanaians the Special Committee set up would undertake an independent work, adding it would not push “anything under the carpet.”
He also cautioned MPs to be mindful about their commentary on the issue in the public since it might undermine the work of the Committee, threatening, people will be held for contempt of Parliament if their comments prejudice the case.