February 12,2014. Lead Story
The first prosecution witness in the GH¢4.1 million GYEEDA rot case has testified that one of the accused persons had promised to create one million jobs in the country.
According to the witness, Nuru Hamidan, the first accused person, Philip Akpeena Assibit, who had been introduced as coming from the Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI), together with his team, had informed officials of the then National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) that he could assist expand youth employment modules under the NYEP.
He said Assibit had told NYEP officials that his project could create the said one million jobs in information and communications technology (ICT), agriculture and housing construction.
“I was like ‘wow’ because our mandate was to create jobs and if we have people who can help us create the jobs, it was more than good news to the establishment,” the witness, who is the current Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Asokore Mampong in the Ashanti Region, said.
He said the issue that remained hanging after the Goodwill International Ghana (GIG) had been given the mandate to go ahead with the project was how the project would be funded.
According to the witness, the GIG and MDPI promised to arrange for funding and subsequently introduced Western Capital (Wescap) as the arranger of the financing, while the GIG was to be the facilitator of the project.
Subsequently, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed among the GIG, Wescap and NYEP, Mr Hamidan indicated, adding, “I was a witness at the signing.”
The MoU, dated July 27, 2010, was tendered in evidence as an exhibit.
Assibit, a representative of GIG, and a former National Co-ordinator of the NYEP, Abuga Pele, have been accused of committing acts that led to the loss of GH¢4.1 million to the state.
Pele is alleged to have entered into a contract with Assibit to engage in activities which have not inured to the benefit of the state.
The former Co-ordinator of the NYEP, which is now known as the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), has pleaded not guilty to two counts of abetment of crime, intentionally misapplying public property and five counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state.
Assibit, on the other hand, has been charged with six counts of defrauding by false pretence and five counts of dishonestly causing loss to public property.
He has also denied any wrongdoing.
Substitution of charges
Earlier, a Principal State Attorney, Mrs Evelyn Keelson, had substituted the January 24, 2014 charges preferred against the accused persons.
Pele was initially charged with five counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state, two counts of abetment of crime and one count of intentionally misappropriating public property.
Assibit originally faced five counts of dishonestly causing loss to public property and six counts of defrauding by false pretence.
Both accused persons are currently on bail from the court, presided over by Mrs Justice Afia Siriboe Asare-Botwe.
Pele is on self-recognisance bail, while Assibit has been granted a GHc2 million bail, with four sureties, two to be justified.
Extracts of offence
According to the prosecution, Pele and Assibit signed an MoU which gave GIG the mandate to render services without recourse to the 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 Enterprises Development Programme (YEDP) and had, in the process, employed 250 youth to support the implementation of the YEDP, and had also developed and facilitated the launch of an effectual exit programme for all NYEP modules.
We met President Mahama
Led by Mrs Keelson to give his evidence-in-chief, Mr Hamidan indicated that the NYEP realised that the issues at stake needed approval from higher authorities, including Parliament, and for that reason he, together with Pele and others, met then Vice-President John Dramani Mahama to discuss the project.
He said he and the other team members explained the issues to now President Mahama, who said the concept was a brilliant one.
The witness told the court that President Mahama indicated at the meeting that the World Bank had funding for such projects and, accordingly, advised the team to liaise with the World Bank for funding.
“He said we should discuss the matter with the World Bank. What happened afterwards ...., I am not aware,” the witness indicated, and explained that he was not part of subsequent meetings geared towards the implementation of Assibit’s project because there was a desk officer in charge of World Bank projects at the NYEP.
Mrs Keelson’s question on whether or not any training programme had been held in relation to the case at the court was met with objection from counsel for Pele, Mr Thaddeus Sory, who argued that the question was a leading one.
In a terse ruling, Mrs Justice Asare-Botwe dismissed counsel’s objection and allowed the question to stand.
In his answer, Mr Hamidan explained that GYEEDA was a training and employment agency which funded its training programmes for the youth.
The witness, who said he was once the Deputy National Co-ordinator in charge of Operations and later Administration, took the court through the operations of the NYEP.
Scores of supporters in court
Scores of supporters and sympathisers of the accused persons thronged the courtroom to observe proceedings.
Not even the blackout during a greater part of the hearing and the resultant heat and stuffiness in the courtroom could deter them from standing for several hours to observe proceedings.
Facts of the case
A 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 to the state.
They are facing 19 counts 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 been granted bail by the court, presided over by Mrs Justice Afia S. Asare-Botwe, to reappear on February 11, 2014 for trial.
The first prosecution witness, Mr Nuru Hamidan, began testifying at the court on February 11, 2014.