Parliament bribery: Ablakwa threatens court action if not called to testify

One of the three Minority MPs alleging that they received money meant to influence them to approve the nomination of a minister has threatened legal action if he is not allowed to testify to a committee probing the matter.

MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, have requested to testify as a witness in the bribery claim that was first made by Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga against the leadership of Parliament’s Appointments Committee.

The Appointment Committee had been vetting President Nana Akufo-Addo’s ministerial nominees.

Ablakwa’s Lawyers in a letter addressed to members of the 5-member committee tasked to investigate the alleged scandal, said, “we have been instructed by our client to convey to you, which we hereby do, his desire to appear before your committee to be heard on the above allegation and to provide evidence that would assist your Committee to reach a fair and true conclusion on this substantially important matter of public interest.”

“Our client further instructs us that, it has come to his notice 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.”

Ablakwa’s letter

The request to testify follows revelations by Chairman of the 5-member committee, Joe Ghartey, on Wednesday that Mr. Ablakwa will not be among four witnesses that will be called to testify at the public hearing the committee.

Mr. Ablakwa’s Lawyers have promised to advise their client to resort to other constitutional and legal options available if he is refused the opportunity to be heard by the committee. 

Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike Ocquaye

Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike Ocquaye, constituted the 5-member committee to look into allegations by Mr. Ayariga that the Energy Minister, Mr. Boakye Agyarko attempted bribing Minority members on the Appointments Committee with Gh¢3,000 each with the aim to influence his approval as Minister.

Mr. Ayariga further claimed that the money was handed to the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka by the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Mr. Joseph Osei Owusu for onward disbursement, a claim both have denied.

Mr. Ayariga together with Mr. Ablakwa and Tamale South MP, Mr. Alhassan Suhuyini subsequently petitioned the Speaker of Parliament to investigate the claims.

These two were the only Minority members on the Appointment Committee who corroborate Mr. Ayariga’s allegation.

Messers Ayariga (M), Suhuyini (R) and Ablakwa

The other members of the 5-member committee probing the matter are Mr. Ben Abdallah, Mrs. Abena Durowaa Mensah, Mr. Magnus Kofi Amoateng and Mr. Benson Tongo Baba.

The terms of reference of the committee are to establish whether the First Deputy Speaker, Mr. Joseph Osei Owusu took money from the Energy Minister, Mr. Boakye Agyarko and gave it to the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka to the distributed to Members of the Appointments Committee.

It is also to establish whether there was an attempt to bribe Members of the Appointments Committee and to look into the merits of the complaints and assertions made by the First Deputy Speaker, Mr. Joseph Osei Owusu about the matter.

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