Bawku Central Member of Parliament Mahama Ayariga will begin to walk his talk on allegations of bribery when he appears before the Joe Ghartey committee Thursday.
He takes an oath to speak the truth and nothing but the truth about a bribery allegation that has left Parliament bruised.
Chairman of the committee reminds him of his right to counsel but Ayariga who is himself a lawyer rejects the offer of a counsel.
Ghartey reads the committee’s first terms of reference which is whether indeed the Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko gave an amount of 3000.00 cedis bribe in order to have him approved, and asks the witness to comment.
Ayariga says on 27th January he received a call from radio Gold in respect of a bribery allegation in Parliament and was asked to comment on it. He confirmed that indeed he received the money from the Minority Chief Whip, monies he initially thought was their sitting allowance but when he was told it was a bribe coming from a ministerial nominee he together with other minority members on the appointment committee decided to return the money.
Chairman makes reference to the transcript of the radio Gold interview and asks him if he stands by his claim that the minority chief whip Muntaka Mubarak was the one who gave him the money.
Ayariga stands by his claim.
Chairman probes further quoting another transcript this time from the Joy FM interview in which he said that he did not deal directly with Boakye Agyarko and Joe Osei Owusu. Ayariga confirms that he never dealt with Agyarko.
At the time the money was given to you was it explained what the reason for the payment was, another committee members asks Ayariga. The witness said they were agitating for their sitting allowances having sat deep into the night at previous sittings and they were assured that the chairman had raised a memo to the Speaker for the payment. He says when he got the call from the Minority Chief Whip that the money had come, he thought it was the allowance and not money to bribe.
Ghartey: Was the Energy Minister nominee not approved by a majority decision on the appointments committee and what led to the change in decision by the minority to approve him by consensus?
Ayariga: Agyarko withdrew some of the comments which the minority thought were in bad taste and in some cases he provided evidence to substantiate his claims and so the committee decided to now approve him by consensus.
Committee Member: How many people were in the conclave meeting where it was agreed that the nominee will be approved by consensus.
Ayariga:: I can’t really remember the number but Muntaka, Samson Ahi, Osafo Maafo, Boakye Agyarko and others were there.
Committee Member: Did you have any evidence apart from the rumour that Boakye Agyarko had paid bribes.
Ayariga: My interview and comments on bribery were based on what Muntaka told us.
Committee Member: Why didn’t you ask Agyarko when you met him but chose to go on radio the second day and reiterate the same allegation you made on the 27th January?
Ayariga: Our meeting with Agyarko was at the instance of the speaker to deal with specific issues and not about his alleged bribery scandal. So we concentrated on the issues for which the meeting with Agyarko was called.
Committee member: Did the bribery allegation ever come up in that meeting?
Ayariga: It came up but not in the manner in which it was reported in the public domain.
Committee Member: Was Muntaka part of the meeting at the conclave and if he was did he speak about collecting money from Agyarko.
Ayariga: He was in the room but the matter was raised in such a way that he did not have the time and opportunity to say anything about it.
Committee member: Do you still believe that Agyarko brought money to be influenced?
There are facts that Minority chief whip asked that we should come for money. We took the money and later returned it upon hearing the rumour that it was a bribe. It is a fact that we asked Muntaka to investigate the matter.
Committee member: It is also a fact that you had no basis to confirm the allegations of bribery against Agyarko?
Ayariga: That is why we asked the Minority Chief to investigate the matter.
Chairman goes back to the terms of reference and asks the witness if he has any direct evidence that a bribe was given by Agyarko to Joe Osei Owusu to be given to the Minority members.
Ayariga says admits he has no direct evidence of bribery allegations.