By Pascal Kafu Abotsi
A former Attorney General, Mr. Martin Amidu, has placed what may pass for the most irreparable corruption tag on Members of the Fifth and the recently dissolved Sixth Parliaments of the Fourth Republic, with his insistence that they lacked honour and integrity.
According to Mr. Amidu, popularly called the ‘Citizen Vigilante’, Members of Parliament in those regimes colluded with the executive to rape the state, for instance, in the passage and approval of loans and international agreements, as such exercises were carried out without due diligence.
Relying on information from Mr. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, who was the Minority Leader at the time, the former Attorney General emphasised that the belief of the people of Ghana was confirmed when the former alluded to the fact that the “majority in the Fifth and Sixth Parliaments kowtowed to the Looter Governments.
“If Parliament was a bit more diligent in its approval of loans and was more transparent in handling motions, parliamentary democracy would have been deepened,” he quoted Mr. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, who is currently the Majority Leader, to have said.
In his latest piece copied to The Chronicle, Mr. Amidu accused the two parliaments of serving the “interest of the majority members and their looter Governments, contrary to their oath as members of parliament,” and topped it up with the description that they were “mere appendages of the executive looter chariot.”
His claim was in view of the then Majority Leader’s explanation that the majority in parliament “affiliated to their Looter Governments” tried to balance the interest of the country and that of their party in the discharge of their duties on the floor of parliament.
The citizen vigilante also accused the Fifth and Sixth Parliaments of extortion, citing the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General’s Department, which were compelled to ask for monetary contributions from their component security, intelligence and legal agencies to pay the extortion money to Committees of Parliament, before their budgets were considered at the yearly budget hearings.
“The payment of extortion money to committees to deliberate upon loan agreements and bills in or outside Accra, together with pocket allowances or fuel allowances by Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDA) and even by lobbying Non-Governmental Organizations all engender corruption in the whole body polity as Parliament never approves such expenditures in any MDA’s budget,” he stated.
Mr Amidu indicated, that explained that the quantum of money allegedly extorted by Parliamentary Committees and related bodies and individuals, “under such extortion racketeering from the MDAs is no small money, because even the supporting staff of the committee of Parliament is paid a share of it.
“And as I found out to my chagrin, the staff of MDAs also used the extortion by Parliament as an excuse to be paid similar allowances for their contribution towards preparing for the budget hearing and loan or legislative committee discussions,” he said.
With the benefit of hindsight, the former Attorney General said in 2011, he was full of praise for the organizations in the Ministry of Justice, when they each wrote to say they had no funds to contribute to the extortion money required for the budget hearing.
“Regrettably, to avoid disaster for the Ministry, one of the Departments with authority to retain a portion of its internally generated funds loaned the administration the extortion money which was paid to the budget committee of the 5th Parliament at the budget hearing of 2011,” he added.
Amused by the enthusiasm, both sides of the house on the committee showed in signing for their extortion money, Mr. Amidu recalled reporting the incident to the then President, who seemed not to be oblivious of the practice.
“The response I received when I reported the two occasions of extortion to the then President was to be consoled by the fact that Parliament had made attempts to extort money from him when he nominated persons for appointment; he added that two of my colleagues even paid to be approved for their ministerial positions,” he said.