Friday, February 24, 2017

GO FOR WOYOME GH¢51m MAHAMA TASKS NANA

By William Yaw Owusu
 Friday, February 24 ,  2017

Former President John Dramani Mahama has tasked his successor, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to pursue Alfred Agbesi Woyome, the beleaguered National Democratic Congress (NDC) financier, to retrieve the GH¢51.2 million unlawfully paid to him.

Woyome was dubiously paid GH¢51.2 million by the Mills/Mahama administration for no work done after which the government turned round to recover the said money from him.

However, at the instance of the Mahama administration, Woyome was virtually treated with kid’s gloves, with the money yet to be refunded despite an order from the Supreme Court.

According to John Mahama, the NDC government he led ‘diligently pursued’ Mr. Woyome, who claims to be a financial engineer, but court processes frustrated their efforts in the pursuit.

“Indeed, the person involved has been pressed to pay back some of the money, I hear he’s started paying back some of the money and it is our hope that this government will continue from where we left off,” he told a private radio station called Power 98.7 FM in Johannesburg, South Africa yesterday.

 “This issue about GH¢51million took place when I was vice president many years ago and you’ll be surprised that the matter is still grinding slowly at different levels: the Supreme Court has given a ruling, the lower courts have given a different ruling, the person involved is fighting the case at different levels of the court system, but the Attorney General, that is my Attorney General who has left, pursued this matter diligently and did her best in the legal maze to try and protect the interest of the Ghanaian people.”
 “We cannot be lovers of good governance but also be desirers of arbitrary justice: I mean under an unconstitutional government you’d just lock up somebody like that and seize all their assets but we live in a constitutional governance and democracy, and so, the law must work and the Supreme Court has given a ruling which is being enforced.

The ex-President’s claim about his government’s effort to retrieve the money is likely to start heated political debate in Ghana since his critics have always accused him and other gurus in his previous administration of complicity in the whole saga.

Many have alleged that the NDC benefitted from the money paid Mr Woyome.

Some critics have said that but for the untiring efforts of former Attorney General, Martin ABK Amidu, the NDC financier, would have walked away with the money.

Mr. Amidu aka Citizen Vigilante, who is renowned for his anti-corruption exploits, initiated the court processes to get the Supreme Court to rule that the payment of the GH¢51.2 million to Mr. Woyome by the NDC government was unlawful.

Corruption Tag
Mr. Mahama also parried the corruption tag placed on him by his critics, denying reports that he is worth about $900 million.

“I am not anywhere near even $2 million to talk about $900 million,” Mr Mahama, who lost his country’s December 2016 polls to Nana Akufo-Addo, told the radio station in South Africa, where he is expected to deliver a keynote address and also receive an award for African leadership.

“I am absolutely nowhere near that,” Mr Mahama stressed, explaining: “Often my brother [Ibrahim] is confused with me. My brother is a businessman, he has his assets and I have no interest in his business and I don’t own shares in his business.
“I am a farmer, I have published a book and I have earned royalties from my book and I earn from my farm and that is it. I live a very modest life.”

The ex-President was expected to deliver a keynote address at the African Leadership Magazine (ALM) Person of the Year 2016 Awards Programme in Johannesburg on the topic, “How can Africa win the progress race?”




Thursday, February 23, 2017

MAHAMA’S ORDERS FLOUTED

By William Yaw Owusu
 Thursday, February 23 ,  2017

It is emerging that former President John Dramani Mahama outlawed the buying of state properties, including houses and cars, by his appointees when he was in power, yet he turned around to put in a request to be allowed to keep his official residence.

He specifically ordered his appointees not to attempt to buy any state property; and the directive reminding government officials of the order was signed by then Chief of Staff Julius Debrah on April 14, 2015.

Official Directive
The letter, addressed to all ministers of state, regional ministers and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) with copies to the secretaries to both the former president and the vice president, all chief directors, regional coordinating directors as well as all heads of departments and agencies, indicated that the president was following up on his 2014 State of the Nation address when he promised to stop the sale of state property.

“In the 2014 State of the Nation address delivered in parliament on 25th February, 2014, H.E. the President directed that the schemes on the purchase of houses and saloon cars by government officials at the end of their tenure should be stopped,” the letter said, adding, “Implementation of the directive took immediate effect.

“This letter is formally to inform all Ministries, Departments and Agencies about the enforcement of the directive and to advise them to cease sending applications to this office.”
The system where government officials are allowed to buy state property at ridiculous rates is fast becoming unpopular among some Ghanaians, with many pushing for the law to be scrapped totally.

Mahama’s Request
President Mahama appeared to have gone contrary to his own directive when he put in a request to keep his No. 3 Prestige Link, Cantonments, Accra, residence reserved for sitting vice presidents, as part of his retirement package.

It is suggested that Mr. Mahama wanted the residence as part of his retirement package the moment he stepped into that facility as then vice president; and that’s why he ordered the construction of a new one to house the current and future vice presidents at a whopping cost of $14 million.

After public pressure had reached a crescendo, the former president, who lost miserably to the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo during last year’s crucial election, said he was no longer interested in keeping the property.

Luxurious Cars
According to sources, there were about 17 luxurious Toyota Avalon saloon cars, Land Cruisers and BMW were in the residence, but after the ex-president had packed out, only one Avalon was said to have been left for the new government as contained in the handing over notes.

During the transition, it emerged that former President Mahama was demanding five saloon cars and five four-wheel drive vehicles as part of the end-of-service package, but it was unclear if the unaccounted-for Toyota Avalons were part of the demand.

A statement from ex-President Mahama’s office had maintained that he found it important to move out of the building to avoid ‘marring’ the spirit of cooperation between the two sides of the Transition Team, but even after coming public to say he had changed his mind, it took him almost a month to pack out.

Emoluments Committee
The former president’s request to keep the bungalow appeared contrary even to the approved recommendations by the Prof. Dora Francisca Edu-Buandoh Committee on Emoluments and Conditions of Service for Article 71 office holders.

The committee reportedly did not recommend a house for him but rather agreed on 40 percent of his salary in lieu of accommodation.

Apparently, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, after realizing that there was no legal basis to appropriate the house, allegedly used its majority in parliament to secretly amend the Prof. Edu-Buandoh Committee’s report to include housing settlement for outgoing President Mahama.

However, even after the amendment, the immediate-past NDC government did not say that then President Mahama’s abode should be given to him.

271 Cars
Recently, it emerged that the Mahama-led administration auctioned many luxurious state vehicles to its appointees at ridiculous prices before leaving office.

For instance, a two-year-old Toyota Camry was reportedly valued at GH¢4,000 and all these happened after December 7 last year when the NDC had lost miserably in the crucial general election.

The bombshell was dropped by former presidential staffer, Sam Nettey George - who is currently the NDC MP for Ningo Prampram - when he said that 271 out of 641 vehicles were auctioned to the staffers at the presidency, confirming the earlier reports that some of the state vehicles were missing.

Cars For Boys
 Mr Sam George told Citi FM in Accra that “Now, of this 370, there is a disparity of between 370 and 641. This is because 271 saloon cars were purchased by staffers who had put in a request to purchase their vehicles which were two years and above.”

Post-Election Sale
Mr. George admitted that the NDC government sold the vehicles after the December 7, 2016 general elections, saying, “You cannot sell the vehicles to the people before the elections. You will only sell after the elections are done and dusted and you know that people are leaving office.

 “I can bet you in 2012 very few vehicles were sold between the Mills/Mahama switching into the Mahama administration because it was basically the same party.”




Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I NEVER BRIBED MPs – AGYARKO AS MUNTAKA DISOWNS AYARIGA

By William Yaw Owusu
Tuesday, February 2 1,  2017
National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Asawase, Alhaji Mubarak Muntaka, yesterday shot down allegation by his colleague MP Mahama Ayariga that he (Muntaka) shared ‘bribe’ money among his colleague members on the Appointments Committee.

The man also accused of inducing them with the payment to facilitate his ministerial approval, Boakye Agyarko, also denied paying any bribe to get his approval by parliament.

Agyarko’s Denial
Mr. Agyarko stated categorically that he never gave money to anyone, particularly the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Joe Osei-Owusu, to approve his (Agyarko’s) nomination to become Minister of Energy.

He said it was the Speaker of Parliament who called him to come to the house to clear the outstanding issues where he provided proof of his claim and said he handed the documents to the committee through the Chairman.

Mr Agyarko said he never felt his nomination was in danger because he distinguished himself before the vetting committee and never felt threatened.

“I had no motive to influence anybody with regards to my nomination. I felt incredulous about the matter. I had done no such thing,” he stated.

He said he always believed that “the matter was so outlandish that it was going to fall flat, adding, “I never gave anybody money to influence the Appointments Committee. “When we were at the Flagstaff House waiting to be sworn in, a call came from parliament that myself and Osafo-Maafo were required to come to parliament. When I came, I was confronted with three questions. The debt status of the energy sector, the second was the building of FPSO and the third was figurative language I had used about John Mahama in respect of the World Bank breathing down his neck. I answered the first two questions and withdrew the third comment.”

“At no point from my vetting did I feel the confirmation of my nomination was at risk and therefore had no motive to bribe anybody. If at all my confirmation was at risk, I knew there was a majority in the appointments committee who could approve me by majority decision and same could be done in the plenary so there was no motive at all in paying any bribe.”

Muntaka Digs Ayariga
Muntaka also denied categorically that he had brought money to Mahama Ayariga and other NDC MPs, claiming it was given to him by 1st Deputy Speaker Joseph Osei-Owusu who is the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, to influence the MPs to approve the nomination of Boakye Agyarko as Energy Minister.

The Asawase MP said he was ‘shocked’ at the conduct of Mahama Ayariga whom he described as “my best friend” and said it was unthinkable of his colleague to peddle falsehood against him saying, “Hon. Ayariga is the best friend I have on earth and I was shocked he was saying this about me. I couldn’t  see how I could speak to him about this issue.”

The Minority Chief Whip alongside his counsel, Samson Lardi Ayenini was testifying before the committee set up by the Speaker of Parliament to investigate Mahama Ayariga’s bribery scandal that rocked parliament about three weeks ago.

The five-member committee chaired by Joe Ghartey, Minister for Railways Development, is investigating among other things, whether Mr. Osei-Owusu gave money to Alhaji Muntaka at the instance of Mr. Agyarko to be distributed to minority NDC MPs on the Vetting Committee so that Mr. Agyarko could be passed as Energy Minister.

Peddling Falsehood
“It never happened. Hon. Joe Osei-Owusu has never discussed money with me let alone influence members on the minority side,” he protested.

He said the first time he met Mr. Agyarko in real life was when the nominee appeared before the committee adding, “I have never met him; he has not sent anybody to me or called me to give me money to influence members to approve his nomination.”

The Minority Chief Whip said that it was not in doubt that members of the Appointments Committee at a point decided to voice out about sitting allowances and the Chairman of the Committee had assured that he was working it out with the speaker and added that normally, every MP collects his/her allowances from the Accounts Office.

He confirmed that, initially, the minority had expressed their reservations about Mr. Agyarko and Yaw Osafo-Maafo as Senior Minister but after they were called in to clear certain issues at the Conclave, both the minority and the majority decided to pass them by consensus.

“I never gave money to anyone. I am surprised about what Hon. Ayariga said. I never received any money let alone share it among members.

“I was taken aback when I heard that Hon. Ayariga was saying that I gave them money and said it was coming from the Chairman at the instance of Hon. Agyarko. That had never happened. I was shocked where he got that information from. I never told him that Hon. Osei-Owusu gave me money from Agyarko to share it among members.”

He said he did not hear the Radio Gold interview where Mahama Ayariga first granted interview on the matter on the 27th of January, but admitted that he granted interview to Joy FM on the matter the next day.

He said that anybody who says he gave them money and said it was given to him by the Chairman from Agyarko will not be truthful, saying, “That’s going to be concocted because that never existed.”

Ayariga’s Evidence
Before the Minority Chief Whip testified, Mahama Ayariga, as the main witness, had testified and admitted that he never dealt directly with Mr. Agyarko or Mr. Osei-Owusu but insisted Alhaji Muntaka gave them money saying, “It was the whip who asked us to come for the money.”

He admitted that Mr. Agyarko had subsequently satisfied the minority that he could be approved when he brought documents on some of the issues he raised at the vetting pointing out that, “Substantially, on certain issues, he changed his position and others he withdrew so there was a consensus to approve his nomination and that was not based on any payment of bribe.”

Radio Gold
Mahama Ayariga appeared to shift the blame on Radio Gold, a pro-NDC radio station, when he said the station called him about the allegation and he agreed to grant interview.

He stated categorically that Mr. Agyarko’s approval was not influenced by anything including bribery, apart from the fact that some positions he held during the vetting had changed. “Ultimately, there was consensus to the extent that the two nominees satisfied the minority and we changed our position,” Ayariga claimed.

The Bawku Central MP insisted that it was a fact that Alhaji Muntaka told them to come for money and they took it, and that there were rumours about bribery and they asked the whip to find out what it was.

He also claimed that Alhaji Muntaka had said that the money was coming from Mr. Agyarko and it had been given to the Whip by Mr. Osei-Owusu, but said he had no basis of verifying the rumour.

He admitted he had no direct evidence that Mr. Osei-Owusu took money from Mr. Agyarko and gave it to Alhaji Muntaka to be given to them.

Ablakwa’s Entry
Later, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu, also appeared with his lawyer Dr. Dominic A. Ayine who is also MP for Bolga East and former Deputy Attorney General, to challenge some aspects of the evidence of Mr. Osei-Owusu.

Mr. Osei-Owusu in his earlier testimony had said that in the presence of K.T. Hammond, an NPP MP, Mr. Ablakwa remarked that they were spreading the allegation because Mr. Agyarko had continuously said Mr. John Mahama was a corrupt president.

Ablakwa said, “I never made those statements being attributed to me. This same allegation had earlier been attributed to Hon. Ayariga on Joy FM by Hon. Osei-Owusu,” adding, “There are some inconsistencies in his statement.”

He asserted that he had no motive to go into conspiracy against a nominee just to spread corruption allegation around.
“At no time did I meet with others to smear Mr. Agyarko,” he insisted.


PRIVATE FIRM TAKES OVER TAKORADI CONTAINER TERMINAL

By William Yaw Owusu
Tuesday, February 2 1,  2017
It has emerged that the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has contracted a private company to provide receipt and delivery storage services to shippers who operate at the Takoradi Port.

The contract between GPHA and Ibistek Limited commences on March 6, 2017 and as a result, the GPHA management has announced that 3rd March 2017 will be the last day that importers could take delivery of containers and containerized cargo within the port.

The deal, which was concluded last year on sole-sourcing basis, is causing uneasy calm at the port because the unions claim they were kept out of the whole deal.

On February 13, 2017, the GPHA management confirmed the arrangement when it wrote that “in line with the agreement between GPHA and Ibistek Limited, the authority has licensed Takoradi Container Terminal (TACOTEL) as an inland container terminal to provide receipt, delivery storage services to shippers using Takoradi Port.”

The letter, signed by Richard H. Acquah, Ports Operations Manager for Director of Ports on February 13, 2017 with reference POM/TKI.23/V57, said “TACOTEL is located in the premises of the erstwhile Ghana Primewood Limited on the Takoradi Sekondi Road, and will be responsible for devanning of import containers, as well as receipt of export containers.

The letter said, “All vehicles devanned from containers will be handed over to Safebond Ghana Limited for onward delivery to consignees.”

According to the letter, “TACOTEL will technically be commencing operations on March 6, 2017, and will in the interim, handle import containers only.

“Export containers will continue to be deposited with GPHA in the port by shippers until otherwise directed. Therefore, 3rd March 2017 will be last day that importers can take delivery of their containers and containerized cargo within the port.”

When the deal was reportedly being finalized in November last year, the unions wrote to the management of GPHA, requesting it to furnish them with the contract agreement to enable them to inform the workers, accordingly but the management refused.

On November 24, 2016, the Junior and Senior Staff Unions wrote to the management to furnish them with the contract documents which they said was between the GPHA and Safebond Company Limited (SCL) signed in April 2016, as well as documents covering the agreement between GPHA and Takoradi Container Terminal (TCT) since they claimed it was causing fear and panic among the workers.

According to them, “The sighting of the documents by the unions will allay doubt, fear and suspicion about the intention of management with regards to future dealings of GPHA, SCL and TCT.”

 “It will also help the unions to educate its members on the contract agreements and management’s expectation of workers role as far as these new contracts concerned.

The next day, the management replied the union, stating categorically that they were not going to accede to the request of the unions.

“It is not the practice of management to provide contract documents to staff for review,” the letter said.
“We are unable to accede to your request.”

The unions said, “Money will go to private pockets instead of coming to the state. The company could have done this investment on its own. Why should the state contract huge loans for the port expansion project and turn around to hand over this strategic asset to a private firm after spending so much on the project.”

“If the government, through the GPHA, has been able to carry out this massive expansion of the port without the involvement of private entities, why should the management engage in such bizarre arrangement?” they quizzed.

Monday, February 20, 2017

AYARIGA BRIBERY SCANDAL: MORE WITNESSES COMING

By William Yaw Owusu
Saturday, February 18 , 2017
 Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, seems to have opened the floodgates for more witnesses to be called to the committee investigating allegation of bribery in parliament.

Following a Facebook comment and a letter from his lawyers, the parliamentary Ad-hoc Committee has agreed to allow more witnesses to testify in the bribery allegation made by National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP Mahama Ayariga.

Chairman of the committee, Joe Ghartey, MP for Essikado Ketan and Minister for Railways Development, said yesterday that the five-member committee would now go beyond the limited four-witness plan and bring in every MP or a member of the public who wants to give testimony in the matter.

The committee’s sitting yesterday was suspended.

Ad-hoc Committee
The Special/Ad-hoc Committee was set up by the Speaker of Parliament to investigate Mahama Ayariga’s allegation that Boakye Kyeremateng Agyarko- who was vetted by the Appointments Committee - through some people, paid GH¢3,000 to the minority MPs on the committee to influence his (Agyarko’s) approval as Minister of Energy.

The committee is specifically looking into the allegation against the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Joseph Osei-Owusu aka Joe Wise, who Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central, had cited as the conduit for bribing the MPs; and Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak, who Mahama Ayariga claimed had brought the money.

Joe Wise’s Testimony
At its first public sitting which was telecast live on Wednesday, the first witness, Mr. Osei-Owusu who is also the 1st Deputy Speaker, testified and flatly denied the allegation of bribery leveled against him by Mahama Ayariga.

He had said that it was the MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who said in the presence of colleague MP, Kobina Tahir Hammond of Adansi Asokwa that because Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko had said ex-President John Mahama was corrupt, they (NDC) were going to spread the allegation of bribery.

He said Okudzeto Ablakwa had said specifically that “we wanted you to face the same heat as John Mahama,” in the presence of K.T. Hammond.

In the ensuing heat, Okudzeto Ablakwa hit back, describing the Appointment Committee Chairman’s allegation as ‘malicious’ and caused his lawyers to write to the committee to allow him to also testify.

4-Witness Plan
Initially, the committee had said it was taking oral testimonies from Mr. Osei-Owusu, Alhaji Muntaka, Mahama Ayariga and Boakye Agyarko, but Okudzeto Ablakwa’s request appeared to have opened the floodgates for more witnesses to appear before the committee.

When the committee commenced sitting yesterday, Mr. Ghartey asked Magnus Kofi Amoatey, NDC MP for Yilo Krobo, who is also a member, to read the decision they took on Okudzeto Ablakwa’s letter.

Committee’s Worry
The committee was not happy that Okudzeto Ablakwa chose to use public space, including the media, to get his concerns addressed instead of coming directly to the committee to ask to be a witness.

“The committee is of the view that this letter might not be necessary if Okudzeto Ablakwa had drawn closer to us,” the Yilo Krobo MP said, and added, “We are going to give him the opportunity to testify.”

Mr. Ghartey then said that the committee had decided to allow testimony from everyone who knows something about the matter, saying, “If you want to testify, get in touch with the Clerk of Parliament.”

Transcript
The committee then directed that the clerk should serve every prospective witness with the transcript of the proceedings of last Wednesday when Joe Osei-Wusu testified and also attach the Hansard of the day the bribery allegation was made.

It then asked the next batch of witnesses to ‘stand by’ on Monday, February 20.

The other committee members are Ben Abdallah Banda, MP for Offinso South; Benson Tongo Baba, MP for Talensi and Ama Pomaa, MP for Juaben who was not present on its first public sitting when Abena Durowaa Mensah, MP for Assin North stood in for her.

Truth
Meanwhile, Mahama Ayariga, who triggered the scandal, told Joy Fm yesterday that he was ready to testify.

He will not speak to the substantive issue except to say that he’s ready to appear before the committee without a lawyer.

With a petition pending before the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) over the same matter, Mahama Ayariga said he’s ready to appear before any committee set up to tell the truth.

He would, however, wish that parliament be allowed to conclude its investigation before any other statutory institution begins any investigation into the matter.



Thursday, February 16, 2017

AYARIGA BRIBE COOKED SAYS OSEI-OWUSU

By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Chairman of the Appointments Committee of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, has flatly denied the allegation of bribery leveled against him by colleague Member of Parliament (MP), Mahama Ayariga, saying that it was cooked up.

Mr. Osei-Owusu, the 1st Deputy Speaker, said yesterday that his accusers had openly made the allegation as a form of ‘equalization’ as he continuously said that then President John Mahama was corrupt.

He said that it was the MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who claimed in the presence of colleague MP, Kobina Tahir Hammond of Adansi Asokwa, that because Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko (who had gone through the vetting process) had said ex-President John Mahama was corrupt, they (NDC members) were going to spread the allegation of bribery.
Mr Osei-Owusu indicated that Okudzeto Ablakwa had said specifically that “we wanted you to face the same heat as John Mahama,” in the presence of K.T. Hammond.

Oral Testimony
The 1st Deputy Speaker made the denial when he testified at a Special/Ad-hoc Committee, set up by the Speaker of Parliament to investigate Mahama Ayariga’s allegation that Boakye Kyeremateng Agyarko, through some people, paid GH¢3,000 to the minority MPs on the committee to influence his (Agyarko’s) approval as Minister of Energy.

The committee, chaired by Joe Ghartey, MP for Essikado Ketan and Minister for Railways Development, is specifically looking into the allegation against Mr. Osei-Owusu aka Joe Wise, who Mahama Ayariga, NDC MP for Bawku Central, had cited as the conduit for bribing the MPs; and Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak, who Ayariga claimed had brought the money.

At its first public sitting which was telecast live, the committee members, including Ben Abdallah Banda, MP for Offinso South; Magnus Kofi Amoatey, MP for Yilo Krobo and Benson Tongo Baba, MP for Talensi , asked Mr. Osei-Owusu questions.

However, a fifth member, Ama Pomaa, MP for Juaben, was not present but Abena Durowaa Mensah, MP for Assin North, was in attendance.

Equalization Game
Narrating the incident, the witness, who offered to testify without the help of a counsel, said that on Friday, January 27, 2017, the Appointments Committee was working when a friend journalist sent him an audio recording that one Ablordepey was reporting from Parliament House that then nominee Boakye Agyarko had brought GH¢100,000 to him to distribute among members of the committee.

He said his enquiries from the Parliamentary Press Corps showed that the said Ablordepey was not a member and he subsequently showed the recordings to the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, who is a ranking member of the committee and the entire leadership of parliament.

“Within an hour, other MPs showed me media publications and this time, they had attributed the allegation to Mahama Ayariga,” he said.

The Conclave
 According to Mr. Osei-Owusu, although the committee had always taken its decisions to approve or reject nominees on the same vetting day, a meeting which he referred to as ‘conclave’ was held at the Speaker’s Lobby to resolve the appointments of  Mr. Agyarko and Yaw Osafo-Maafo (Senior Minister) since the minority had said they were not going to approve them.

“After we had discussed the issues relating to the two nominees at the conclave, I raised the issue of bribery allegation leveled against me and said we should find solution to the problem there.

"All the minority members said ‘Mr. Speaker take your time, cool down, cool down," he reported efforts by the minority to appeal for calm after it was evident that he was angry with the allegation made.

It was at that moment that Okudzeto Ablakwa intervened and explained that the allegation was made up because the NPP had characterised John Mahama as corrupt.

"We were spreading the corruption allegations," Joe                         Osei-Owusu reported Okudzeto as saying.

“It was at that point that Okudzeto Ablakwa said because Agyarko had said President Mahama was corrupt ‘we were also spreading corruption allegation’ against the NPP government.”

Initial Reaction
Mr. Osei-Owusu said with Okudzeto Ablakwa’s ‘confession’ he wanted to ‘dismiss’ the allegation as one of those political rhetoric but he later realized that Mahama Ayariga was ‘unrepentant’ and therefore decided to pursue the matter to its logical conclusion.

“When the time came, I said on the floor of the house that the people had confessed that they did that by equalization. I expected that the matter had died but by evening on the same day Mahama Ayariga said on social media that his allegation was true.

“Muntaka and I never discussed anything about money.  Neither have I taken money from Agyarko for myself or anybody. Based on what they said about me, there were many presumptuous conclusions drawn in the media so my main intention was to go to court. I wanted to meet my accuser face-to-face so I could clear my name,” Mr Osei-Owusu asserted.

Give-And-Take
Committee member (Magnus Kofi Amoatey):  At the conclave meeting you said it was Hon. Ablakwa who spoke. Did Hon. Ayariga speak?

Witness (Osei-Wusu):  No.

 Committee Member: Do you expect considerations from nominees?

Witness:  No.

Committee Member: Did you engage Hon. Ayariga one-on-one on why he made the allegation?

Witness: No. I wouldn’t trust him to do any such thing. It would have been suicidal to do it after the allegation.

Committee Member:  Did you raise it at conclave?

Witness: Yes.

Committee Member:  Did you confront Hon. Muntaka?

Witness: Yes. The following day, he came to me to apologise that I have been brought to the centre of this allegation.

Committee Chairman (Joe Ghartey): Did you take money from the nominee Boakye Agyarko?

Witness: No.

Chairman: Did you give money to Hon. Muntaka for distribution?

Witness: No.

Sitting continues on Friday when Alhaji Muntaka, Mahama Ayariga, the star witness and Boakye Agyarko are expected to testify.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

AYARIGA BRIBE CASE STARTS TODA

By William Yaw Owusu
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
The Special Committee set up by Parliament to investigate Mahama Ayariga’s allegation of bribe-taking by some Members of Parliament (MPs) is expected to commence public sittings today.
Even before sittings begin, one of the prospective witnesses, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, is insisting that  Boakye Kyeremateng Agyarko – who was vetted by the Appointments Committee - through some people, paid GH¢3,000 to the minority MPs on the committee to influence his (Agyarko’s) approval as Minister of Energy.
Specific Task
The committee, chaired by Joe Ghartey, MP for Essikado Ketan and Minister for Railways Development, is specifically looking into allegation against the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Joe Osei-Owusu, who Mahama Ayariga, NDC MP for Bawku Central, had cited as the conduit for bribing the MPs; and Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak, who Mahama Ayariga claimed had brought the money.
Other members of the committee are Ben Abdallah Banda, MP for Offinso South; Magnus Kofi Amoatey, MP for Yilo Krobo; Ama Pomaa Boateng, MP for Juaben and Benson Tongo Baba, MP for Talensi.
Delay
The committee had earlier scheduled Monday, February 13, as the date to start work at the Speaker’s Conference Room in Parliament House, Accra, but the star witness - Mahama Ayariga - was said to be in Nigeria for Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) parliament assignment.
The Joe Ghartey Committee will invite Mahama Ayariga, Joseph Osei-Wusu - who is also the 1st Deputy Speaker - Sampson Ahi and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa - members of the Appointments Committee - to appear before it.
Others to appear are Alhassan Suhuyini, MP for Tamale North; Mohammed Mubarak-Muntaka, MP for Asawase; Eric Opoku, MP for Asunafo South and Boakye Kyeremateng Agyarko.
The investigation was launched after Mahama Ayariga and two minority MPs - Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Alhassane Suhuyini - had accused Boakye Agarko of bribing them.
Mahama Ayariga caused public outrage when he claimed on pro-NDC network - Radio Gold - recently that the Minority Chief Whip shared envelopes containing GH¢3,000 for minority members serving on the Appointments Committee to approve Mr. Agyarko’s appointment.
Instant Denial
The Muntaka and Boakye Agyarko have already denied ever sharing envelopes containing GH¢3,000 each to approve the nomination of Mr. Agyarko to become Minister of Energy; and the Chief Whip’s action appears to have incensed his colleagues on the minority side of parliament.
Mahama Ayariga claimed Alhaji Muntaka had told them (minority MPs on the committee) that it was the Committee’s Chairman Joe Osei-Owusu, who gave the money to them and said they later got to know that it was coming from Mr. Agyarko.
In the ensuing debate, Nii Lantey Vanderpuije, a minority member of the Appointments Committee, was also said to have told Montie Fm - a sister station of Radio Gold - that he didn’t know anything about the alleged bribe, even though he was expected to have benefitted from it (if it was the allowance for the members of the committee). 
Latest Interview
However, on Monday, Okudzeto Ablakwa granted interview to Radio Gold once again, swearing by the heavens not to go against God’s word in Exodus 20:16, which says “Thou shalt not bear false witness.”
According to him, “This is the truth and God is my witness.  I will not bare false witness, remember in the Bible that the 10 commandments speak against this. There is a grave sanction for you if you are a Christian and you bear false witness. I wouldn’t tell a lie on somebody.” 
He said, “We are not changing our position - Hon. Boakye Agyarko sought to bribe us when he was having difficulties with his approval.”
Return Money
“We met and decided at a meeting chaired by our leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, whom I have a lot of respect for, great leader… he agreed with all of us that let us all return the money and we all returned the envelopes.
“What I know is that an envelope was given to me and my other colleagues and we found out that it wasn’t our allowances…We heard where the money was coming from and we did our own checks and got confirmation so we decided to return it. We are not in parliament to receive any nominee’s money. Our constituents didn’t send us to parliament to go and receive bribes from nominees,” he charged.