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21 February 2017

Bribery saga: I have no business with Agyarko to be paid dividend – Ayariga

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The Bawku Central Member of Parliament says he returned the alleged GHC3,000 given him to Minority Chief Whip Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak after he realised it was not what he had thought.

Mahama Ayariga said he was initially under the impression that the money was to cover their sitting allowance which Parliament’s Appointments Committee members had demanded.

However, after he was told the money was a donation from then Energy Minister-designate Boakye Agyarko, whose approval the minority was challenging, he returned it.

“I haven’t done any business with Agyarko so I can’t tell that it is a dividend that he is sharing with me,” he said when he appeared before Parliament’s Special Bribery Investigative Committee Monday.

The integrity of Ghana’s legislature was questioned after Mr Ayariga told an Accra-based Radio Gold on January 27 that the sum of GHC3,000 was doled out to members of the Committee.

He said a day after they had taken the money, rumor mills got flooded that it was coming from the Energy Minister.

“So we raised the issue in the morning again and he said he had met with the Chairman [Joseph Osei Owusu] and the chairman had said that it was from Boakye Agyarko who is a nominee whereupon we as a Minority said, ‘no, no, we were not interested in his money.’

“He (Muntaka) should take the money and then return it to the Chairman to give it back to Agyarko so we gave the money back to our Chief Whip and asked him to send it back to the Chairman.”

The claim caused public uproar triggering calls for an independent investigation to be instituted into the matter.

Speaker of Parliament Professor Mike Aaron Ocquaye acting on a motion set up a five-member committee to unearth the truth about the issue.

Railways Development Minister, Joe Ghartey was made the Chairman of the Committee to verify among all things if First Deputy Speaker Joseph Osei Owusu received money from the Mr Agyarko.

The Committee first met Mr Osei Owusu as the first witness last week to get his take on the issue.

Giving his testimony, Mr Ayariga said although he has nothing to tender in as evidence, the facts he has given are true about the issue.

“I took the money is a fact; later we heard rumor is also a fact; and we asked for investigation is also a fact,” he said.

He said he can testify that Mr Muntaka told them that the money was coming from Mr Agyarko.

The Bawku reiterated he had not withdrawn his claim as was put out in the media during the heat of the issue.

Mr Ayariga stated that he had not dealt with the Energy Minister ever until he appeared before the Appointments Committee for his vetting.

“I have never in my life spoken to Boakye Agyarko,” he said, adding he was surprised when the money was said to be coming from him.

 

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