Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
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.
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.
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.