January 25, 2014 (Lead Story)
A former Co-ordinator of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), Abuga Pele and another were on January 24, 2014 put before the Financial Division of the Fast Track High Court for causing financial of GHC4.1 million.
Pele was alleged to have entered into a contract with the second accused person, Philip Akpeena Assibit, a representative of Goodwill International Ghana (GIG), to engage in activities which have not inured to the benefit of the state.
The former Co-ordinator of the NYEP, now known as the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency (GYEEDA), faces five counts of willfully causing financial loss to the state, two counts of abetment of crime and one count of intentionally misappropriating public property.
Assibit, on the otherhand, faces five counts of dishonestly causing loss to public property, two counts of abetment of crime and six counts of defrauding by false pretence.
They both pleaded not guilty to the charges and have been granted bail by the court, presided over by Mrs Justice Afia S. Asare-Botwe, to reappear on February 11, 2014.
Snippets of Offence
According to the prosecution, Pele and Assibit signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which gave GIG the mandate to render services without recourse to then Minister of Employment or the Attorney-General.
Assibit was said to have given false representation that he had secured a $65 million loan facility from the World Bank for the implementation of the Youth Enterprise Development Programme (YEDP) and had in the process employed 250 youth to support the implementation of the YEDP as well as developed and facilitated the launch of an effectual exit programme for all NYEP modules.
The accused persons looked on calmly when a Principal State Attorney, Mrs Evelyn Keelson, read out their charges.
Counsel for Pele, Mr Thaddeus Sory, prayed the court to grant his client self-recognisance bail on the grounds that his client was the Member of Parliament for Chiana Paga who had served in various public capacities as an MP and had not been found to have engaged in any form of illegality while holding public office.
“He has impeccable credentials,” counsel argued and further reminded the court that Pele had a legislative function to perform as an MP and for that reason the court should grant him bail to enable him to perform those functions as MP.
Counsel argued that the facts of the case were not only “fragile but hollow,” and accordingly prayed the court to grant Pele bail.
On his part, lawyer for Assibit, Mr Raymond Bagnabu, prayed the court to grant his client self-recognisance bail because his client had complied with bail conditions from EOCO.
He further stated that he will lead evidence to prove the innocence ofAssibit ,who counsel argued was a businessman of international repute and also had a fixed place of abode.
He said the number of charges leveled against Assibit were attributable to the uncertainty of the prosecution.
Pele was granted self-recognisance bail while Assibit was granted a GHC2 million bail with four sureties, two to be justified.
Both accused persons were directed to report to the investigator in charge of the case on Mondays at 9 am.
Background to the case
The facts of the case as presented by Mrs Keelson were that in 2009, Pele on assumption of office as the National Co-ordinator of the NYEP, entered into a contract with Assibit. Under the terms of the agreement – the NYEP was described as the ‘Host” while ‘GIG’ was tagged as ‘Strategic Partner.”
According to the prosecution, the parties agreed to combine their labour, properties and skills for the purpose of engaging in resource mobilization, investor sourcing, management consulting, capacity building, career development and training services among others.
Per the agreement, GIG was responsible for resource mobilization and undertook to provide preliminary funds for the development of the programme while the parties agreed to share to equally share the profits that would accrue out of the agreement.
“Meanwhile, there is nothing on record in terms of business proposals or documents forming the basis of engaging GIG as a Strategic Partner,” the prosecution stated.
Assibit between May 2011 and May 2012, “made a number of payment claims for consultancy services he claimed to have rendered to the NYEP ranging from the provision of exit plan and strategy for all NYEP modules, established a Youth Enterprise Development Project which he claimed to have used in securing approval for a World Bank facility of $65 million for the NYEP and had recruited and trained 250 youth to support the implementation of what he referred to as the World Bank funded Youth Enterprise Development Programme (YEDP),” the prosecution said.
Continuing with the evidence gathered against the accused persons, Mrs Keelson told the court that the representations put forward by Assibit were supported Pele who used them as the basis for justifying, recommending and approving a total amount of GH3,330, 568.53, the equivalent of $1,948,626.68 to Assibit claiming among others that, Assibit’s work had directly resulted in a World Bank support of $65 million for the NYEP.
“Meanwhile investigations revealed that all these representations were false,” she pointed out and further indicated that investigations revealed that GIG was never appointed a consultant to NYEP.
The prosecution said Assibit had failed to provide any exit plan and strategy for NYEP modules adding that Assibit had again not conducted any financial engineering for the approval of a World Bank facility of $65 million as he had claimed and corroborated by Pele.
“Indeed there has not been any approval by the World Bank of $65 million for the NYEP,” the prosecution pointed out and said investigations also discovered that in August 2012, Assibit was paid an additional GHC835,000.00 under the guise of what was referred to as “tracer studies” for the World Bank as the last requirement needed to be met for the approval of the $65 million facility.
According to the prosecution, Assibit’s claims on the tracer studies were also supported by Pele and grounded upon which Pele approved the payment of the amount Assibit.
The actions of Pele according to the prosecution had caused financial loss to the state and it was based on these facts that the accused persons had been put before the court.
- The former National Co-ordinator of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), Abuga Pele and a representative of Goodwill International Group (GIG) have been put before the Financial Division of the Fast Track High Court for causing financial loss of GHC4.1 million.
- They are facing 19 counts of of dishonestly causing loss to public property, abetment of crime and defrauding by false pretence.
- They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and have been granted bail by the court presided over by Mrs Justice Afia S. Asare-Botwe, to reappear on February 11, 2014 for trial.