NLA 'Bribe' Do not sweep latest NLA allegations under the carpet: Anti-graft bodies warn

It has been disclosed that the NLA spent about GHc 150,000 on allowances to members of the Finance Committee in the previous Parliament to facilitate deliberations on the amendment of the National Lottery Act, 2006.

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Three anti-corruption civil groups; the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Centre for Democratic Development-Ghana and the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition have demanded an independent probe into the bribery allegations made against the National Lotteries Authority (NLA) and members of Parliament’s Finance Committee.

The former Chairman of the Finance Committee, James Klutse Avedzi, said that his committee received Ȼ100,000 from officials of the National Lottery Authority ahead of the consideration of amendments to the National Lottery Act, 2006 (Act 722).

The legal advisor to the NLA, David Lamptey had in separate e-mails addressed to the then Director-General of the NLA, Brigadier General Martin Ahiaglo (Retired) in August 2016, requested the approval of a total sum of Ȼ150,000 to push the bill for the consideration by parliamentarians.

play James Avedzi

 

However, Mr. Avedzi said that the Authority first presented 50,000 cedis to the Committee "but when we looked at the provisions, we realised that the amount was not sufficient so they promised to bring another 50,000 cedis."

READ ALSO: We cannot punish MPs who took NLA cash - Parliament

This is in spite of claims by the NLA's David Lamptey that the funds were spent on accommodation and other items for the members of the committee ahead of a workshop at the Royal Senchi Hotel last year.

The other Ȼ50,000 is yet to be accounted for.

The Director of Public Affairs at Parliament has, however, indicated that members of the Finance Committee who received money from the National Lottery Authority (NLA) to deliberate on a Lottery Law cannot be sanctioned.

Kate Addo said that members of the committee that were involved in the act belonged to the 6th parliament which ceased to function immediately the 7th parliament came into being on January 7, 2017.

But in a joint statement, the three anti-graft bodies said that the claims, if not investigated, will gradually ruin the reputation of parliament.

"This revelation, coming on the back of the unsatisfactory handling of Honourable Mahama Ayariga, Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central’s bribery allegation presents a further challenge to the already dented image of Parliament and growing eroding trust in politics and the political class in the Fourth Republic,” they noted in a statement.

They further argued that there should be “the setting up an independent body outside of Parliament possibly chaired by someone of the reputation of Mr. Emile Short, former Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) or someone of similar standing, to look at the alleged bribery case, to investigate this issue, review the payment practices in Parliament and make clear recommendations for regulating these processes.”

Below is the full statement:

GII, CDD and GACC Call for Independent Probe into Finance Committee– NLA Bribery Allegation

The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) are dismayed with yet another allegation of bribery involving Ghana’s Parliament.

The reported news that the National Lotteries Authorities (NLA) paid some monies in 2016 to members of the Finance Committee of Parliament prior to the consideration of amendment to the National Lottery Act, 2006 (Act 722) is very worrying.

This revelation, coming on the back of the unsatisfactory handling of Honourable Mahama Ayariga, Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central’s bribery allegation presents a further challenge to the already dented image of Parliament and growing eroding trust in politics and the political class in the Fourth Republic.

Ghanaians would recall that when the Honourable Ayariga allegations surfaced, our three organisations called for an independent body or committee outside of Parliament to investigate the matter to ensure that the findings of fact will lead to necessary broader reform of some of the wrong practices in Parliament. Unfortunately, that opportunity was missed when the Committee set up by Parliament was given a narrow remit to work with.

Considering that sections of the Ghanaian public were not satisfied with the way Parliament managed the Hon. Mahama Ayariga bribery allegation against the appointment committee, it may be useful and helpful for Parliament and the country as a whole for this new allegation be handled differently.

The current allegation presents an opportunity for Parliament not to attempt to investigate this matter on their own. GII, CDD-Ghana and GACC recommends for the setting up an independent body outside of Parliament possibly chaired by someone of the reputation of Mr. Emile Short, former Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) or someone of similar standing, to look at the alleged bribery case, to investigate this issue, review the payment practices in Parliament and make clear recommendations for regulating these processes.

We wish to encourage the leadership of Parliament not to sweep this allegation under the carpet and like the proverbial ostrich, bury their heads in the sand and pretend there are no problems with the image and integrity of our Parliament.

It is in the utmost interest of Parliament and Ghana’s young democracy that the integrity and image of Parliament are protected at all cost. Short of these go to undermine the fundamental tenets of checks and balances in a democracy.

Finally, GII, CDD-Ghana, and GACC call on Parliament to use this as an opportunity to holistically address the general public’s perception of parliamentary corruption and incessant allegations made by individuals, including Hon. Martin Amidu, former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Hon. Alban Bagbin, current 2nd Deputy Speaker, Hon. P.C Appiah Ofori, former MP, Professor Stephen Adei, Former Rector of GIMPA and recently by Hon. Mahama Ayariga.

SIGNED:

Linda Ofori-Kwafo, Executive Director , GII

Dr. Franklin Oduro, Head of Research & Programmes and Deputy Director CDD-Ghana

Beauty Emefa Narteh, Executive Secretary, GACC

Analysis

It is highly regrettable that these allegations have come up, especially as many feel that the previous one on the Mahama Ayariga bribery claims was swept under a rug. With the latest one, there are even fears that laws will soon be sold in Ghana, and it's a shame if the country should get to that stage.

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