NLA saga: Former CHRAJ boss calls for thorough independent investigation

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A former boss of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has called for immediate investigations into the circumstances under which National Lotteries Authority (NLA) paid monies to some parliamentarians. 

Justice Francis Emile Short described the payment as a very serious allegation, which has implications on the image and reputation of Parliament.

Former Chairman of Parliament’s Finance Committee, James Klutse Avedzi, admitted his committee received GHC100,000 from officials of the NLA prior to consideration of amendments of the National Lottery Act, 2006 (Act 722).

Legal Advisor to the NLA, David Lamptey 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 GHC150,000 to “push the bill for the consideration” by parliamentarians.

Related: NLA in GH¢150,000 bribery scandal; Lawyer admits sharing money to MPs

Commenting on the issue, the Director of Public Affairs, Kate Addo, explained that members of the committee that benefited from the act belonged to the 6th parliament which ceased to function immediately the 7th parliament came into being on January 7, 2017.

Kate Addo

“The present Parliament is an entirely new parliament and can’t go back to old parliament because their activities are not binding on the subsequent ones,” she stated.

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She added, “When you have a new parliament, you have a clean slate”.

Many of the MPs who took the money are, however, still in the so-called new Parliament.

Related: MPs who took NLA cash can’t be punished – Parliament

Parliament she said cannot sanction the MPs.

Justice Emile Short

But speaking on the Super Morning Show Thursday, Justice Short said it is inconsequential when it happened since Parliament’s image is at stake.

“There should be a thorough investigation by an independent body to look at the circumstance under which the payment and for what reason it was made.

“If payment vouchers were signed, for example, we need to know what was indicated on it. Also, there is the need to establish whether the funds were paid directly from NLA resources to Parliament,” Justice Short questioned.  

Earlier this year, the Ghartey Committee was tasked to investigate a bribery claim made by Bawku Central MP Mahama Ayariga against the leadership of the Appointments Committee.

However, in its 56-page report, the committee said it “came to the firm conclusion that Mr Mahama Ayariga is in contempt of parliament on the strength of Article 122 of the 1992 Constitution, section 32 of the Parliament Act, 1965 (Act 300) and Orders 28 and 30 (2) of the Standing Orders of Parliament”.

The Committee said it “came to this conclusion because Mr Mahama Ayariga failed to prove that indeed Hon. Boakye Agyarko [Energy Minister] gave money to Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu [Chairman of the Appointments Committee] to be distributed to the members of the Appointments Committee with a view to bribe them”, as alleged by Mr Ayariga in an interview he granted Radio Gold.