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01 July 2017

Parliament-NLA Bribery: GII, CDD And GACC Unite For ‘Independent Probe’

Three prominent anti-graft and governance institutions have called for an independent probe into the possible bribery scandal that has hit Parliament and the National Lotteries Authority (NLA).

The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) want the leadership of Parliament to “sweep the allegations under the carpet.”

It emerged this week that the NLA, the regulator of lotteries and all forms of gambling in the country, and the immediate past members of Parliament’s Finance Committee carried out acts that bordered on bribery and subtle extortion.

In what appears to be a case of misappropriation of taxpayers’ money, the lotteries regulatory agency led by former Boss, Brigadier General Martin Ahiaglo (Retired), spent GHȻ150,000 to facilitate deliberations on the amendment of the National Lottery Act, 2006 (Act 722).

The Authority is reported to have used the money to pay allowances to members of the Select Committee on Finance after it organised a workshop for them on amendments to the new lottery law, Act 722.

Read: NLA in GH¢150,000 bribery scandal; Lawyer admits sharing money to MPs for more background

Some of the committee members have confirmed receiving the allowance, others claim they did not.

In a release Thursday, the three anti-graft institutions said the revelations cast a blight on the integrity of Parliament and feeds into widely held suspicions of a corrupt legislature.

“This revelation, coming on the back of the unsatisfactory handling of Honourable Mahama Ayariga, Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central’s bribery allegation presents a further challenge to the already dented image of Parliament and growing eroding trust in politics and the political class in the Fourth Republic,” said the release jointly signed by the Executive Director of GII, Linda Ofori-Kwafo , the Head of Research and Programmes and Deputy Director of CDD-Ghana , Dr. Franklin Oduro, and Executive Secretary of GACC, Beauty Emefa Narteh.

Mahama Ayariga had claimed that himself and other MPs on the Appointments Committee of Parliament were bribed to push through the approval of Boakye Agyarko to head the Energy Ministry.

An internal investigative body, chaired by another Parliamentarian, Joe Ghartey, found that Mr Ayariga was unable to back his allegations with evidence.

Mr Ayariga retracted the allegations and apologised.

The anti-graft institutions say when Mr Ayariga’s matter broke, they called for an independent probe into the matter but the call was not heeded.

“This new allegation presents a new opportunity for Parliament through the Speaker, to set up an independent body outside of Parliament possibly chaired by someone of the reputation of Mr. Emile Short, former Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) or someone of similar standing, to look at the alleged bribery case, review the payment practices in Parliament and to make clear recommendations for regulating these processes,” the anti-corruption crusaders suggest.

They also called on Parliament to see the recent revelations as an opportunity to holistically address the general public’s perception of parliamentary corruption and incessant allegations of corruption.

Meanwhile, the Ranking Member on Parliament’s Constitution and Legal Affairs Committee, Inusah Fuseini, has also said the only way for the House to clear its name is to institute an independent probe.

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