Speaker Denied Me Chance To Air My Concerns

Bawku Central MP Mahama Ayariga has complained that Speaker of Parliament Prof Mike Oquaye did not accord him an opportunity to raise certain qualms he had with the Ghartey Committee report that was debated on the floor of Parliament on Thursday.

Mr Ayariga was the subject of the report produced by the five-member Joe Ghartey Committee that investigated the bribery allegation he made against the leadership of the Appointments Committee in connection with the vetting and subsequent approval of Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko.

The Committee found him guilty of contempt of parliament and recommended that he render an apology to the House in connection with his claim that Mr Agyarko packaged GHS3,000 for each of the Minority MPs serving on the Appointments Committee as bribe so they could approve his nomination. Mr Ayariga claimed the bribe was passed through Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mubarak and First Deputy Speaker Joe Osei-Owusu, who happens to be the Chairman of the Appointments Committee. However, the Ghartey Committee said it found no evidence to back Mr Ayariga’s allegations.

In rendering his apology to parliament, Mr Ayariga said he had qualms with the criminal standard of procedure used by the Committee in the investigation since he was denied an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses as required in such processes. He also expressed reservations about the powers of the committee to pronounce a verdict of contempt.

After expressing his reservations, Mr Ayariga said: “Mr Speaker, if you say I should apologise, I apologise.”

Speaking to Samson Lardy Anyenini on Multi TV’s Newsfile on Saturday, 1 April 2017, Mr Ayariga explained that he had to prefix his apology with his concerns because the Speaker had denied him two opportunities to do so prior to putting the Ghartey report to a vote on the floor.

“If you also watch the clip, you would see that when Hon Haruna [Iddrisu] spoke, and after Hon Haruna spoke, the Majority Leader also spoke and then after the Majority Leader also spoke, I stood up. If you watch the clip you will see that I stood up; I stood up because I thought that there was the need to draw the attention of Mr Speaker to fundamental legal issues and fundamental errors of judgment in terms of the analysis of the issues that were before the committee and the basis on which they were analysing the issues before he would put the question to the House. So go and watch the clip, you will see that I stood up but he did not give me the opportunity and he rather put the question [to the House]. So, when he put the question [to the House], some people said ‘yes’, some people said ‘no’, but like you said, the ‘yes’ sounded louder than the ‘no’, so he said the report had been adopted by the house and I stood up again and then I was signalled to sit down and then he said that I should come to the bar and when he said I should come to the bar, then he said ‘no’, we don’t think he should come to the bar, he should be where he is and render the apology. So it was the only opportunity I had to speak on issues that I was hoping to raise,” Mr Ayariga said.

“If the Speaker had allowed me to, at least, as the principal person that the report is about … also comment, he could have also asked other parties involved to also comment, but he chose not to but I asked for an opportunity to comment because I rose up and he did not recognise me.”

Asked if, in his estimation, his apology was appropriate, Mr Ayariga said: “I was bound to apologise because the house had ruled on the matter. … I was bound by a decision of the house to apologise and I apologised, I don’t know if the apology was accepted by the Speaker or not.”

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