Parliamentary Bribery Scandal: Joe Osei-Owusu Exonerated?

Even before the Joe Ghartey-led committee investigating the bribery scandal that rocked Parliament’s Appointments Committee makes public its findings, Member of Parliament for Bekwai and first deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon Joe Osei-Owusu is insisting he has been vindicated.

The Chairman of the Appointments Committee, who was alleged to have served as conduit in the alleged attempted bribery of members of the Minority side on the committee, has been bragging that the five member committee has cleared him of any wrong doing.

Though acting Director of Public Affairs of Parliament, Mrs Kate Addo has said the committee is yet to wrap up on its report following fresh evidence from witnesses, the Bekwai law maker recently thundered in ecstasy, “I am exonerated already”.

“I think sometimes people misconstrue what this is about. This committee was set up as a result of my complaint to the speaker that I have been defamed, so, it is my complaint that is being investigated, whether I have been defamed. If those who made the allegation cannot prove it, then indeed, it means I have been defamed. If they can prove it, then I have no case,” he told Joy News’ Parliamentary Correspondent, Joseph Opoku Gakpo.

According to him it has been difficult working with Minority members of the Committee who accused him of facilitating the bribe money.

“It’s not been easy, whether you like it or not, you are human. You look at people who have falsely accused you. If you had your own way, you will pretend they don’t exist, but you can’t because it’s no longer about you. It’s about the state.

“It’s about your leadership style. It’s about leadership of Parliament, if it was left to my emotions, probably the situation would have been difficult,” Mr Osei Owusu added.

The Chairman of the Appointment Committee’s statements has left many wondering and questioning whether the outcome of the probe has been communicated to him even before the committee submits its report to the Business Committee of parliament tomorrow.

Already, the African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA) has cast doubt over the objectivity of the outcome of the Committee’s report.

According to a senior associate of ACEPA, Tuinese Amuzu, “the posture of the committee is as a result of the kind of training that members of the committee had. So we are all brought up into a system that say, if you are coming into this committee there are rules by which you should come. We should be more interested in the substantive matter, and coming to the bottom of it.”

“We should be less technical and more inclusive and more interested in delving into the bottom of the matter so that we will not say, you have come to give testimony on a particular aspect of the matter and once you are done, that is it.”

A five member Committee was set up by the Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon Prof Aaron Mike Ocquaye following allegation by MP for Bawku Central, Hon Mahama Ayariga that the Energy Minister, Mr Boakye Agyarko, gave the Appointments Committee the sum of GHC100, 000 to be shared to the minority members on the committee.

According to him the money was given to Minority Chief Whip, Hon Muntaka Mubarak by the Hon Osei-Owusu for onward disbursement; a claim which both the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Energy Minister and Muntaka had rubbished.

The Bawku Central MP’s allegation was later corroborated by MPs for North Tongu, Hon Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, and Tamale North, Alhaji Alhassan Saibu Suhuyini, who are both members of the Appointments Committee.

The deadline for the ad hoc committee to finish its work past three weeks ago but Mrs Kate Addo explained in a press statement last week Wednesday that “the Committee on Allegation of Bribery against the Chairman and some Members of the Appointments Committee today met and took evidence from more witnesses”

“In all, three witnesses were admitted. The Committee is now considering its draft report and would present the final to the House on Wednesday, 29th of March, 2017 subject to the approval by the Business Committee,” the statement added.

Source: The Al-Hajj

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