The approach adopted by the five-member ad hoc committee investigating the bribery allegation against the leadership of the Appointments Committee of parliament is technically flawed, Edudzi Tameklo, a private legal practitioner and member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has said.

According to him, the decision by the committee to first invite Mr Joe Osei-Owusu, one of the persons named in the corruption allegation against the leadership of the Appointments Committee, is wrong because the one who made the allegation, Mahama Ayariga, should have been given the opportunity to present the case before the committee, after which the persons named in the matter would appear before the committee and respond.

Thus, in his view, there is no accusation before the committee headed by Joe Ghartey, MP for Essikado Ketan and Minister of Railway Development, for anyone to respond to.

Speaking in an interview with Chief Jerry Forson, host of Ghana Yensom on Accra100.5FM on Friday February 17, Mr Tameklo said: “The Committee should have first listened to the one who made the accusation (Mahama Ayariga) to substantiate or otherwise. After that you bring in the ‘accused’ to come and respond, but what we have is that the one who has been accused has been given the opportunity to speak first. So, technically, there is no accusation before the committee.”

“We need to ask ourselves some questions: At the moment, what accusation is Joe Osei-Owusu responding to? Where is the accusation when, technically, before the committee there is no accusation?

“To worsen matters, the ‘accused’ has also ‘accused’ another person (Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa) who happened to be my client before the committee in the matter.”

Meanwhile, North Tongu MP Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has threatened to sue the Ghartey Committee probing the bribery allegation.

This follows claims by the committee’s first witness, Mr Osei-Owusu, that Mr Ablakwa confessed that the Minority made the bribery allegation against Mr Agyarko for equalisation purposes and that they meant it as a joke.

Appearing before the committee on Thursday, Mr Osei-Owusu said: “In the conclave, after they had shown that they [Minority] were satisfied and were willing to withdraw their objection and agree for their report to be amended that Hon Osafo Maafo and Boakye Agyarko be passed by consensus, we were going to leave and I said: ‘No. There was this allegation already in the public domain, and Honourable Ayariga is the one alleged to have made that allegation, so, we should discuss that matter after meeting.’ All the Minority members said was [that]: ‘Mr Speaker, cool down, cool down’. And I said: ‘How can I cool down? This allegation is already in the public domain’. It was at that point that Okudzeto Ablakwa said, ‘Because Agyarko said our president (Mahama) was corrupt, we were spreading the corruption allegation’. The mood in the room changed afterwards.”

Mr Ayariga, on Friday 27 January, claimed a quantum of money was given to Mr Osei-Owusu by Energy Minister-designate at the time, Mr Boakye Agyarko, to be distributed to Minority MPs on the Appointments Committee with the intention of influencing them to give him the nod so he could be sworn in as Minister.

Mr Ayariga, who is a member of the Appointments Committee, told Radio Gold in an interview that the Minority MPs rejected the GHS3000 each which was enveloped for them when they later found out that the money was coming from Mr Agyarko as a bribe.

According to Mr Ayariga, the Minority MPs first accepted the money because they were under the impression that the money was their sitting allowance but got alarmed and decided to return the money after they heard rumours that the money was coming from Mr Agyarko.

“We were expecting our committee allowances from the chairman, so, when we were called by our leader to come and take our money, we took it knowing that that is our allowance, so, as for the quantum we cannot tell how much money he [Mr Agyarko] might have given to the chairman, so, there are all sort of speculations about what sort of quantum he is alleged to have given, but what we know is what came to us as individuals, that is what we can bear testimony to: whether it’s GHS1 or GHS2, no matter how small it is, what we know is what was given to us and we found out later that it was coming from him, so, as for the quantum, it’s not important. For me the most important thing is that we were expecting to be given our committee sitting allowances, and we were promised by our chairman that it will come very soon, and we were called to pick up money from our Whip, we picked it up and assumed that it was our allowances and then later we heard rumours in the house and we called our leader and asked him: where is the money coming from? He said it came from the Chairman but chairman said it was coming from Boakye Agyarko, so, that is where we realised that we can't take money from Boakye Agyarko, so, we asked him to take his money back, we are not interested. The quantum is insignificant, even if he had brought GHS1million, we will still return it to him,” Mr Ayariga alleged.

The bribery allegation followed the reluctance by the Minority side of the Appointments Committee to recommend Mr Agyarko for passage over certain comments he made against former President John Mahama during his vetting.

All the actors named by Mr Ayariga in the bribery scandal have denied anything of the sort ever happened. Mr Ayariga and two other colleague MPs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Alhassan Suhuyini, subsequently petitioned the Speaker to probe the matter since they insist there was an attempted bribery.

Following Mr Osei-Owusu’s mentioning of Mr Ablakwa’s name in the whole affair, the NDC MP has written to the Ghartey Committee through his lawyers Ayine and Felli@Law saying: “Our instructions are that our client was served with a letter dated 4th February, 2017 with reference number PG/SC/005 by the Clerk to your Committee inviting him to attend upon the Committee as a witness on a date and at a time to be communicated to him.

“Our client further instructs us that it has come to his attention that your Committee has decided to limit the number of witnesses to be called to give evidence and that he has not been named as one of such witnesses.

“However, in his testimony which was beamed live on national television and which has been widely reported in the national print media, the chairman of the Appointments Committee and First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Honourable Joseph Osei-Owusu, mentioned our client as having told him that the bribery allegation was made up.

“Since our client was not given an opportunity to cross-examine Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu on this unsubstantiated piece of evidence, it would surely be in accord with the rules of natural justice that our client be heard in his own defence before your Committee,” the letter said.

Source: Ghana/