Mr Joseph Osei Owusu (also known as Joe Wise), Chairman of the Appointments Committee of Parliament, who has been named in the alleged bribery case yesterday told the ad hoc committee that has been set up to investigate the case that it would have been suicidal if he had reposed confidence in Mahama Ayariga, to discuss the bribery allegation with him.
According to him, the said bribery case was settled at a conclave meeting attended by Mr. Ayariga himself, but he still went public with the allegation.
This, he noted, made it dangerous for him to discuss anything in connection with the allegation with him.
He was responding to a question posed by MP for Yilo Krobo, Magnus Amoatey, on whether or not he met the claimant to ask him about the issue.
In his answer, Joe Wise, who is the first witness to appear before the committee said he did not have confidence in Mahama Ayariga at that moment.
Magnus Amoatey again asked: “Now Hon Joe Osei Owusu, Hon Mahama Ayariga is your colleague in the House, did you at anytime engage him one on one to find out from him why he went on air speaking or alleging, making this allegation against you?”
“No Mr Chairman, I wouldn’t trust him to do any such thing,” the witness answered.
Mr Magnus Amoatey further asked: “Now, apart from raising the issue at the conclave meeting, since you didn’t trust Hon Mahama Ayariga, did you raise it with his leadership?”
Joe Wise indicated: “Yes, Mr Chairman, at the conclave meeting I put it on the floor where the leadership were, that the matter be resolved before we return to the Chamber.”
The Chairman of the committee, Mr. Joe Ghartey, also asked, “But what do you mean by you don’t trust him?”
“He asked whether I spoke with him and I said I wouldn’t trust him after he had made those allegations, gone on air to repeat it. I think it would be suicidal to go into any one on one meeting with him, very dangerous,” Joe Osei Wusu expatiated.
The witness reiterated emphatically that he did not receive or share any money with any member on the committee.
According to the witness, decision on nominee is taken the same day the nominee appears before the committee, adding that the conclusion on Mr BoakyeAgyarko was for a majority votes, as the minority on the Appointments Committee declined to approve by consensus.
He noted that, the report of the committee was that some other appointees be approved by consensus while the other two, Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo and Mr Boakye Agyarko, be approved by majority decision.
He further told the committee that the approval was given for the consensus and just before voting began on the other two, the minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu called for a meeting between leadership.
At the conclave meeting, Joe Wise noted, the minority pointed out to the two nominees the issues they had with them and same were rectified.
So the minority agreed to approve the duo by consensus, but just before the meeting would end, the witness said he raised the issue of the allegation so that it could be resolved there, before they went back to the Chamber.
He said that the minority side at the meeting, which had Haruna Iddrisu, the leader, Alhassan Suhuyini and Mahama Ayariga present calmed him down, and that though MahamaAyariga raised his hand, he did not say anything.
Okudzeto Ablakwa, the witness said, told the people at the conclave meeting that they broadcast the bribery allegations to equalize the allegation by Mr Boakye Agyarko that former President Mahama was corrupt, so he took it to be the normal political game.
Meanwhile, Mahama Ayariga went on air to repeat the allegation, he continued. According to Mr Joseph Osei Owusu, the MP for Asawase, Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak came to him at Koforidua, where they were having an induction service for the new MPs, to apologize for bringing him into the center of the matter.
Mr Joe Osei Owusu was the first witness to appear before the special committee, which began its public sitting into the matter yesterday.
The next sitting of the committee would be Friday, February 17, where three other witnesses, Muntaka Mubarak, Mahama Ayariga and Boakye Agyarko are scheduled to appear as witnesses. Meanwhile, members of the Appointments Committee, as the Chairman of the ad hoc committee stated, could present their memoranda on the matter by Friday, if any of them have any information.
It would be recalled that about three weeks ago, Mr Mahama Ayariga, who is the Member of Parliament for Bawku Central alleged during a radio interview that he was told that Mr. Boakye Agyarko, Minister for Energy, attempted to bribe him and other colleagues on the Appointments Committee to influence his endorsement.
According to him, GH3000 was giving to each of them by Alhaji Muntaka Mohammed, who alleged that the money was given to him (Muntaka) by Mr Joe Osei Owusu and that the money was actually coming from the now Energy Minister. Boakye Agyarko, an astute economist and Joe Osei Owusu have all denied the allegation. Alhaji Muntaka has also denied the charge.