General News of 2014-04-26

Bribery allegation against MPs: CHRAJ has no lead to proceed

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has expressed concern over the tendency among Ghanaians to make allegations without substantiating those claims.

That, it said, was inimical to the fight against corruption.

Two Deputy Commissioners of CHRAJ, Mr. Richard Quayson and Mr. Joseph Whittal, in charge of Anti-corruption and Public Education and Legal and Investigations respectively, expressed the concern in an interview with the Daily Graphic.

They referred specifically to the recent allegation by the Member of Parliament for Nadowli-Kaleo, Mr. Alban Bagbin, that MPs took bribes.

According to them, getting participants in the forum at which the MP made that allegation to come forward with any lead for CHRAJ to start investigations into the allegation is proving very challenging, as none of them is willing to do that.

They said the commission was collaborating with Parliament to strengthen the latter’s accountability systems to help eliminate perceptions of corruption in relation to the Legislature.

Subsequent to the tape review, they said, CHRAJ met with the leadership of Parliament and the organisers of the forum, on whose platform the allegation was alleged to have been made, to seek specific information from them on the matter.

They said based on the tape's reviewed, the commission appealed for leads to enable it to investigate the claim that MPs received bribes.

CHRAJ was of the view that Mr. Bagbin merely affirmed perceptions among Ghanaians and was frank.

“Therefore, CHRAJ will throw the searchlight on Parliament and collaborate for standards and administrative measures to stem the practice, if it is occurring,” the deputy commissioners stated.

Those administrative standards, they said, would include a code of conduct for MPs, a collaboration with Parliament to pass the Public Officers Conduct Bill and other administrative measures such as a client service charter for the Legislature.

They said the charter would centre on minimum standards that would be the guide for the Legislature, and CHRAJ was collaborating with the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) on that.

CHRAJ had already been working with Parliament on a code of ethics, but both CHRAJ and the leadership of Parliament were seizing the momentum provided by public concern over recent bribery claims to conclude those initiatives, the deputy commissioners said.

The two officials said CHRAJ was going the full hog to put in place administrative systems and measures to eliminate perceptions and real instances of corruption in public institutions, including Parliament and all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

The Public Sector Reform Secretariat, the Public Services Commission and the Parliamentary Service Board were agencies with which CHRAJ was collaborating in the institution of those administrative procedures.

The officials maintained that CHRAJ was shifting the focus of the fight against corruption from fighting the canker when it had already been committed to preventing it.

Client service charters are not new to the public service, having been thought of as far back as the mid-2000s.