General News of 2014-01-03

MPs likely to reject motion on Fortiz deal – upset Muntaka hints

Some Members of Parliament are hurt and upset by a decision to recall them from their New Year break for an urgent sitting on the acquisition of Merchant Bank by Fortiz Private Equity Fund, Majority Chief Whip Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak has revealed.

Even before they sit on Monday, January 6, there are indications nothing positive would come out of their recall.

The Speaker of Parliament has summoned MPs from recess due to the motion signed by 80 legislators who are pushing for a parliamentary inquiry into the sale of SSNIT’s 90 per cent shares in Merchant Bank to Fortiz for Ghc90 million.

Deputy Minority Leader, Dominic Nitiwul who is spearheading the motion, told Joy News the MPs would investigate allegations of conflict of interest against President John Mahama’s brother Ibrahim Mahama and his lawyer Tony Lithur.

But Majority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak suggested to Joy News that those behind the motion did not think through it.

Sounding livid, he said the summon is coming at a time most MPs are in the middle of important activities in their constituencies, and questioned the justification for the recall.

He indicated that the majority of his colleagues would not be enthused that they have been recalled to consider a subject which is before court: the Executive Director of Centre for Freedom and Accuracy, Andrew Awuni filed a suit in court to stop the transaction between Fortiz and Merchant Bank.

Whoever would preside over the motion on Monday would also avert his mind to the fact that the issue is in court and would not do anything to “jeopardise or prejudice” the case, the MP observed.

“I don’t know whether he (Nitiwul) has scientifically thought about the timing; if we are on recess and you are calling your colleagues to come to Parliament with the help of some, may be, 79 others and you think we should break our holidays at the middle of it when we went to recess not too long ago, you think that members would be in the right mood to support whatever motion that you are bringing? I think that he may have to think again.”

He counselled him to next time bring such motion during normal parliamentary sittings because emergency sittings are meant for specific issues usually without ample time to discuss them.

“I am very hurt, I am very, very upset that in the middle of programmes in my constituency you are calling me to come back and the thing that you are calling me on is something which is in the law court.”

Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak is foreseeing a “hot debate” in Parliament and challenged those who signed the motion to justify the recall.

He said every MP would definitely converge to listen to the motion, and predicted that “Monday would be an interesting day in Parliament”.

Meanwhile, a legal practitioner Godwin Adagwine says the 80 MPs who are pushing for a parliamentary inquiry stand a better chance of having the deal abrogated if they can prove that the Social Security and National Insurance Trust violated laws in the controversial transaction.

In his view, the value for money argument, which is one of the basis on which Parliament is seeking to investigate the transaction, is not sustainable.