MPs Grab Bagbin
Parliament is investigating a long-standing member of the House and former Majority Leader, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, for his contemptuous remarks that MPs accept bribes from individuals and organizations to push their (individuals and organizations') agenda.
Appropriate sanctions would be preferred against the Nadowli/ Kaleo MP for openly denigrating the institution of Parliament, which he is a member.
Mr. Bagbin, who had been an MP since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1992 and also former Minority Leader, was reported to have told participants of a BUSAC-sponsored seminar on lobbying at Koforidua in the Eastern Region, that some MPs took bribes to articulate the views of their sponsors on the floor of the House.
“The reality is that MPs are Ghanaians and there is evidence that some MPs take bribes and come to the floor and try to articulate the views of their sponsors. This is because we have not developed what we call lobbying. There are rules; there are ethics regarding lobbying and we in Ghana think that lobbying is taking money, giving it to MPs and writing pieces for them to articulate on the floor. This is bribery,” he was quoted to have said.
The MPs, who were to continue with the debate on the President's State of Nation Address yesterday, were clearly hurt by the pronouncement of Mr. Bagbin and quickly raised the issue when the Second Deputy Speaker, Joe Ghartey, resumed the speakership chair for the day's proceedings to begin.
Incidentally, Mr. Bagbin, who threw the 'bombshell,' was not in Parliament yesterday as he had travelled out of the country for Parliamentary duties in far away France.
In a pre-departure interview with DAILY GUIDE, the experienced MP said the statement he made at the Koforidua workshop was not for public consumption.
He said he would have said it in a different way if he had been told that there were media practitioners in the room.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Shai-Osodoku, David Tetteh Assumeng, was the first to raise the issue by prompting the Speaker on a point-of-order after corrections of votes and proceedings of Friday's sitting had been done.
“Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point-of-order to seek your guidance about an allegation made by Hon. Alban Bagbin that some MPs have been taking bribes, which I think is of national importance. As a Member of Parliament, I see the allegation as an indictment on Members; and we need to investigate this,” he said.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Nkonranza North, Major Derek Oduro (rtd), also stood up to reiterate the concern raised by Mr. Assumeng, stressing that Bagbin must be made to prove his allegations because as far as he was concerned, he had never taken bribe from any individual or organization, in his 10 years' experience as a Parliamentarian.
“This is contempt of Parliament as prescribed by Standing Orders 73(1) and 73(2) of Parliament; and he must be hauled before the Privileges Committee,” he indicated.
The MP for Wa West, Joseph Yieleh Chireh, who has also been another senior Member of Parliament, said Mr. Bagbin, whom the issue is being raised against, was not present and therefore it would be unfair to him if anything was done behind him.
The Majority Leader, Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor, said the Speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho and the leadership of the house had already met and decided to meet Alban Bagbin at 2:00 pm over his comments about fellow MPs.
According to him, they were trying to get in touch with him so that the intended meeting could take place as scheduled to consider the bribery allegations because leadership was not taking the matter lightly at all.
The Second Deputy Speaker agreed with the Majority Leader and the Wa West MP and said that it was important the issue was not swept under the carpet.
“This allegation greatly affects the integrity of Members of Parliament and that we would not allow the matter to be swept under the carpet,” the Second Deputy Speaker assured.
The Ranking Member of the Privileges Committee who is the NPP MP for Akrofuom, Kwabena Appiah-Pinkrah, fumed with anger that the matter was not directly referred to his committee since it was bordering on contempt of Parliament.
“Such matters must immediately be referred to our committee which is chaired by the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ebo Barton Odro,” he said, arguing that the action of the leadership of the House was making the Privileges Committee redundant.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr
By Thomas Fosu Jnr