There was a kerfuffle in Ghana’s Parliament Thursday evening after a member of the Minority side was found guilty of contempt of the House in a bribery allegation.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) lawmaker for Bawku Central Mahama Ayariga was indicted by a 5-member ad hoc committee after he alleged the chairman of the Appointments Committee Joe Osei Owusu was almost used as a conduit by the Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko to bribe members to clear him during his vetting.
Ayariga was found culpable of perjury and has been asked to “render an unqualified apology” to the Appointments Committee’s chairman and the House because according to the fact finding committee, he has “greatly injured” the reputation of Mr. Owusu.
After several protestations, the former Sports Minister stated that “Mr. Speaker if you say I should apologise, I apologise.”
The Speaker Prof. Mike Oquaye fixed Friday, March 31, 2017 to rule on the case.
However, right after the Speaker had vacated his seat, there was total chaos in the lawmaking chamber as some members of both sides were captured on national TV in a near-brawl.
It took the intervention of some MPs to calm tempers as the legislator for Ningo Prampram Sam George and his colleague MP for Odododiodoo Nii Lantey Vanderpuije were seen exchanging words with members of the opposite side.
Sam George later told the media they were provoked by the majority side.
The Committee recommended that Ayariga render an “unqualified apology” to the House and purge himself of the contempt “for greatly injuring” the reputation of the chairman of the Committee Joe Osei Owusu and Parliament.
According to the report, Ayariga “failed to ascertain the veracity of the rumour prior to publishing same. The Committee further observed that as a result of the publication, trust and confidence among members and inter-party cohesion needed for consensus building at the Appointments Committee has broken down considerably.
“Individual members of the Appointments Committee had become suspicious of each other. The chairman of the appointments committee indicated his distrust for Mr. Mahama Ayariga while Alhaji Muntaka stressed that it will be difficult to deal with his accusers.
“The reputation and image of the institution of Parliament has been greatly injured by the allegation. The reputation and dignity of the First Deputy Speaker, other members of the Appointments Committee and that of the Minister for Energy equally suffered considerable damage.”
It added: “As a results of these observations, the committee came to the firm conclusion that Mr. Mahama Ayariga is in contempt of Parliament on the strength of Article 122 of the 1992 Constitution, Section 32 of the Parliament Act (1965) Act 300 and Orders 28 and 30 (2) of the Standing Orders of Parliament.
“The Committee came to this conclusion because Mr. Mahama Ayariga failed to prove that indeed Hon. Boakye Agyarko gave money to Joseph Osei Owusu to be distributed to members of the appointments committee with a view to bribe them.”
The Speaker of Parliament on January 31 constituted the five member committee chaired by Joe Ghartey, a former Attorney General to probe the bribery scandal that rocked the Joe Osei Owusu-led Vetting Committee.
This followed claims by Mr. Ayaria, a member of the committee that Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko tried luring the minority members of the committee with GHC3000 each through the chairman of the vetting committee, Mr. Osei Owusu and the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, so he could be recommended for approval following his edgy vetting.