The Speaker of Parliament Prof Mike Oquaye has turned down a request by some Members of Parliament to set a Committee to probe the Airbus scandal.
His argument was that since the matter has been referred to the Special Prosecutor, it will be prudent for the House to hold on for now and revisit the matter at a later date, if necessary.
“This House has competently, generally dealt with this matter and I would want to reiterate that I’m of the view that the inquisition powers of this honorable House on any matter of public interest from archaeology to zoology cannot be encapsulated.
“I am fully persuaded that considering the circumstances of this matter, in its totality, and the technical prerequisites for examining it in full, and being mindful of the referral already to the Special Prosecutor’s Office and not forgetting that at any stage and time this Hosue can, by any of its appropriate procedures go further into the matter, we will hold our horses and we shall revisit it in due season,” the Speaker said to a loud ‘yea yea’ from the members.
Parliament was on Friday plunged into indecision as members of the Majority side broke ranks on a request to set up a committee to look into the Airbus scandal.
The difference in viewpoints on whether or not to set up the parliamentary committee into the scandal was initially between the Majority and Minority legislators.
However, a major disagreement later ensued among members of the Majority side of Parliament over the same matter.
The argument started when MP for Assin South, John Ntim Fordjuor, requested that the Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike Oquaye, initiate steps for the setting up of a committee to look into the bribery scandal.
“The highly reputed name of our beloved country Ghana was in no doubt brought into discredit on the 31st of January, 2020, following publication of rulings made by the Crown Court at Southwark, in the United Kingdom, between the Director of the Serious Fraud Office and Airbus SE, in which the European multinational aerospace corporation had been fined the sum of $3.9 billion for the payment of bribes to secure deals in five countries, including Ghana,” Mr Ntim Fordjour read from a lengthy prepared speech.
He then went on to say that in the spirit of patriotism, Ghana’s Parliament must pursue its legitimate mandate under the law “to conduct an inquiry into the matter, as an independent institution, to establish complicity or otherwise of Ghanaian government officials, past or present, relative to this Airbus bribery scandal.”
In a quick rebuttal, opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Yapei Kusawgu, John Jinapor, challenged Mr Ntim Fordjour’s request, stating that a parliamentary probe was needless because no Ghanaian government was named or implicated in any crime by the UK authorities.
But the debate took on a sharp and unprecedented turn when some junior Majority MPs started to disagree with the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu on the request.
The Majority Leader is of the view that no parliamentary inquiry should be instituted because the Office of the Special Prosecutor has been directed to probe it, but this position quickly sparked a debate on the Majority side.
Mr Ntim Fodjour (the initiator of the request), Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, NPP MP for Ofoase-Ayirebi; Patrick Boamah, NPP MP for Okaikwei Central; and Bernard Oko Boye, NPP MP for Ledzokuku broke ranks with their leader.
Still, it got more interesting.
When the first Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu, rose to speak, he backed the position of the Majority Leader in sharp disagreement to the position of most of the MPs in the Majority camp.
Meanwhile, Insuah Fuseini and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, both NDC MPs, have suggested that although a parliamentary inquiry will not be necessary it will be welcomed.
A parliamentary probe will be set up if the majority of MPs (simple majority) vote in support of the motion.
The House is still debating the matter. This story will be soon be updated with outcomes of the debates on the floor of Parliament.
Airbus bribery scandal
Ghana is one of five countries in which the European aviation giant, Airbus, paid or attempted to pay millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for contracts, leading a court in Britain to slap a fine of £3 billion on the company.
In court documents and hearings, Airbus admitted five counts of failing to prevent bribery, using a network of secret agents to pay large-scale backhanders to officials in foreign countries, including Ghana, to land high-value contracts.
The scheme was run by a unit at Airbus’ French headquarters, which its one-time chief executive, Tom Enders, reportedly called “bullshit castle”.
President Nana Akufo-Addo has since referred the matter to the Office of the Special Prosecutor for investigation.
Source: Prime News/ files from Myjoyonline