Two more members of the minority in parliament have echoed claims by Mahama Ayariga, the MP for Bawku Central, to the effect that GHC3,000 said to be from the energy minister-designate, Boakye Agyarko, was paid to them to facilitate his confirmation as minister.
Ayariga's fiery claim has provoked a firestorm of controversy and outrage, with a section of the public condemning him and accusing him of making false claims.
The chairman of the appointments committee, Joe Osei-Owusu, who Ayariga said distributed the money to the MPs, has vigorously denied the claim.
Osei-Owusu claimed in an interview with Accra-based Joy FM that Ayariga had withdrawn the bribery claim.
He said Ayariga told him that he fabricated the claim to equalise for corruption claims Boakye Agyarko made against former President John Mahama.
But in a swift response on Facebook, Ayariga denied that he had withdrawn the claim.
He doubled down on his assertion that he received the GHC3,000 from Osei-Owusu, stressing that there was no basis for him to withdraw.
“Let me state categorically that I have not withdrawn any allegation against the nominee. The basis for such a withdrawal and apology does not exist because the Minority Members actually received some sums of money from the leadership which came from the nominee,” he said.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Alhassan Suhuyini, who are both on the appointments committee, told graphic.com.gh on Friday that they indeed received GHC3,000 each form Osei-Owusu, which they claimed to have returned after learning that it was from Boakye Agyarko.
“We stand by Ayariga and we have returned the money,” Suhuyini said.
He said he understood if the parliamentary leadership did not want to make a big issue out of the development because bribery did not reflect well on the image of parliament.
“If they don’t want to make an issue out of that because it impugns on the integrity of parliament, fine,”.he said.
For his part, Ablakwa said the attempted bribery could not be in doubt, claiming that the offer was made but that they returned the money.
He said Osei-Owusu although was angry at their decision to expose the alleged bribery attempt, he felt he and his colleagues had done the right thing in line with their responsibility as honourable MPs.
“It was obvious the chairman was worked up over why Ayariga should go public with the issue but that was our decision. Parliamentary work is serious business and we are not here to joke. Yes, they may outvote us by their numbers but we cannot renege on our duties to the people of Ghana”, he said.
Meanwhile, Boakye Agarko, according to the graphic.com.gh report, has denied the bribery claims and has vowed to take legal action to clear his name.
The minister-designate's confirmation is being deferred by the minority, which has asked him to present documents that back his assertion that Mahama engaged in some corrupt deals at the energy ministry when he was in power.