Reliable information reaching us indicate that the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service yesterday grilled three Members of Parliament (MPs) who served as ministers in the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government over the raging double salary scandal.
They were reportedly cautioned with a charge of stealing and are to reappear before the CID on May 14.
The former appointees, according to reports, are Minister of State in-Charge of Social and Allied Institutions, Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe Ghansah, who is NDC MP for Ada East; Second Deputy Minority Chief Whip, Eric Opoku, NDC MP for Asunafo South and Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister and Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, NDC MP for Tamale Central and Minister of Roads and Highways.
The former NDC appointees are being accused of taking double salaries as ministers and MPs while serving in government under President John Mahama.
The minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, was said to have held a meeting with his three colleagues in the morning before honouring the CID invitation.
They appeared individually with their lawyers at the CID headquarters in Accra and after writing their statements, they were said to have been subjected to questioning before they were granted police enquiry bail.
Already, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, MP for Ellembelle and former Minister of Energy and Petroleum and Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo, MP for Kpone Katamanso, who was the former Greater Accra Regional Minister, are said to have been interrogated by the police and granted bail.
Also, a certain Bashir Fuseini Alhassan, who is believed to be ABA Fuseini, NDC MP for Sagnerigu and former deputy minister for the Northern Region, was also there at the weekend and was made to write a statement before being admitted to bail.
‘Narrow’ And ‘Broad’
In the ensuing heat, Haruna Iddrisu, who is believed to be part of the former appointees, who allegedly took double salaries, has offered to give both what he calls ‘narrow’ and ‘broad’ interpretations of the matter.
Mr Iddrisu, who is scheduled to appear before the CID on Thursday, told Joy FM yesterday that if the issue is viewed ‘narrowly’ the affected MPs could be said to have taken double salaries, “but that should not be the case.”
He said rather the police should conduct a holistic investigation into the matter and that that would point to discrepancies which would not warrant criminalization of the matter.
Using Article 71 for his explanation, the former minister of employment and labour relations said the issue of double salary will hold if only “current ministers and MPs will not tomorrow accept any addition to what is being paid them today as salary advance.”
He noted, “That will be interesting and intriguing for us as a Republic. It means tomorrow when President Nana Akufo-Addo finally sets up this committee (Emoluments Committee), the committee will make recommendations which will in most instances occasion them receiving salary arrears which will affect even payment of their gratuity and ex-gratia.
“So viewed narrowly you can say that ministers of state and MPs are involved in double claims.”
However, a private legal practitioner, Gary Nimako, who was also on Joy FM, said the former appointees cannot escape blame over the double salaries issue.
“There is a cause for concern and there is a question to answer. The Parliamentary Service, they pay the MPs and the Accountant General pays the ministers and their deputies,” he stated on the Newsfile programme, adding, “Some of them even took double salaries as MPs and ministers.”
According to the lawyer, “The fact of some people saying that we did not know that we were receiving double money is not correct. There is a source for every money you receive. If for instance, you are an MP and you take MP salary of X amount, and you have been appointed as a minister, clearly you do not have to take the MP salary again.”
During the weekend, some of the former NDC appointees being investigated were said to be making frantic efforts to submit their bank statements to the CID.
It emerged that a number of them sent their bank statements for scrutiny by the CID, despite the claim by top-notch members of the party that the move to investigate them was a case of ‘political witch-hunt.’
The police have said that the alleged double salaries saga “is contrary to Section 124 (1) of the Criminal and other Offences Act 1960 (Act 29) as amended in 2012 (Act 849). Section 124 relates to the offence of stealing.”
The list appears to show that a good number of the ministers, who served under former President John Mahama, took double salaries for four years, whilst others received double salaries for two and three years, probably because they were reshuffled.
By William Yaw Owusu