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General News Fri, 30 Jun 2017

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NLA scandal: GII, CDD, GACC urge swift probe

The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) have called for an immediate inquiry into the sponsorship package given to parliament by the National Lottery Authority (NLA) to undertake deliberations on the National Lottery Act, 2006 (Act 722).

It has emerged that the committee that did the deliberations was funded by the NLA.

A former Chairman of Parliament’s Finance Committee, James Klutse Avedzi, had admitted his committee received money from officials of the NLA before deliberating on the amendment of the Lottery Act.

Mr Avedzi is reported to have said that the NLA 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".

But a statement issued by the three civil society organisations said they “are dismayed with yet another allegation of bribery involving Ghana’s parliament”, adding: “The reported news that the National Lottery Authority (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 Appointments 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 opportunity for parliament not to attempt to investigate this matter on their own. GII, CDD-Ghana, and GACC recommends for the setting up of 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 for Justice; Hon. Alban Bagbin, current Second Deputy Speaker; Hon. P.C Appiah Ofori, former MP; Professor Stephen Adei, former rector of GIMPA; and recently by Hon. Mahama Ayariga.”

Source: Class FM

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