The adhoc committee set up by the Speaker of Parliament and chaired by Mr Joe Ghartey, to investigate the recent bribery allegations in Parliament on Thursday made known its findings and recommendations.
In a 50-page document, the committee concluded that the Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mr Mahama Ayariga who made the allegation was guilty of contempt of Parliament and subsequently asked that he should be made to apologise to Parliament.
When Mr Ayariga was asked by the Speaker to apologise, he used the opportunity to explain his point and raised some legal issues but concluded by rendering an apology in the following words: "If you say I apologise, I apologise."
Below is a summary of the report:
- The first deputy speaker (Joe Osei Owusu) indicated that he never had any money dealings with Boakye Agyarko - Joe Ghartey.
- Mubarak Muntaka said he had never received or given money in the manner that was alleged - Joe Ghartey.
- Boakye Agyarko said he had never given money to be distributed as was alleged - Joe Ghartey.
- Parliament recognises that it's not all matters that should be discussed in public - Joe Ghartey.
- The Committee is of the view that the CCTV camera footage if made public shall compromise security - Joe Ghartey.
- The Committee did not find the evidence of MPs going to Muntaka's office with envelopes as alleged - Joe Ghartey.
- We needed to establish whether Joe Osei Owusu received money from Agyarko and gave it to Mubarak Muntaka - Joe Ghartey.
- Joe Osei Owusu's denial of the claims against him was emphatic and consistent from the beginning - Joe Ghartey.
- A mere denial does not exonerate someone from an allegation no matter how strong it is - Joe Ghartey.
- Mahama Ayariga insisted he never dealt with Joe Osei Owusu during the bribe payment - Joe Ghartey.
- Muntaka also maintained he never gave any money to influence approval decision - Joe Ghartey.
- The committee is unanimous that there is no evidence that Boakye Agyarko gave money to Joe Osei Owusu to bribe MPs - Joe Ghartey.
- Mahama Ayariga charged with contempt and asked to apologise to those defamed - Joe Ghartey.
- In summary, Ayariga failed to provide evidence to support his allegation.
The confusion followed an apology that Mr. Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central rendered per the recommendation of the Joe Ghartey committee, that the MPs on the majority side felt it was not appropriate.
Earlier, the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, asked Mr. Ayariga to come to the bar to render an unqualified apology but that decision was changed for him to apologise from his sitting place after the intervention of the Minority Leader, Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, and the Second Deputy Speaker, Mr. Alban Bagbin.
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But Mr. Ayariga used the opportunity to explain his point and raise some legal issues.
He started by referring to the prayer said by the Speaker in the morning to the effect that: "We humbly beseech thee to look in favour upon this House with discernment..."
Mr. Ayariga said he rose up to make a comment before the Speaker put the question for the adoption of the report, but he could not catch the eye of the Speaker.
He referred to an earlier sitting during which Mr. Osei Owusu told the House that he (Ayariga) had said in a conclave that the allegation was for equalisation, and indicated that he did not rise to challenge that claim it was used against him in the report.
Mr. Ayariga said he did not know whether the primary concern of the investigation was to get the truth or bring a closure to the issue.
He said the public had an eye on what pertained in Parliament, regarding the bribery case, saying "They are discerning minds and listening to us how we conduct ourselves."
Challenges jurisdiction of the committee
Mr Ayariga, who is a lawyer, was reminded by the Speaker to restrict himself to the apology on two occasions, but he said he would do himself great disservice if he did not raise the legal issues for the consideration of the Speaker.
He questioned whether the committee had the power to draw a conclusion on the matter of contempt.
He said issues of contempt were clearly defined in the Standing Orders of Parliament.
Mr. Ayariga again asked why the committee used criminal standards to determine the burden of truth in the matter.
He said if the criminal standards were used, then he should have also been given the opportunity to cross-examine the other members.
Mr. Ayariga concluded by rendering an apology in the following words: "If you say I apologise, I apologise."