February 14,2014. Page 20
A former Deputy National Co-ordinator of the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), Mr Nuru Hamidan, has said he did not read the contents of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) which has resulted in a GH¢4.1 criminal case against two persons before signing as a witness.
According to Mr Hamidan, who is also the current Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Asokore Mampong in the Ashanti Region, he did not read the contents because he trusted his boss, Abuga Pele, who is in the dock with another person for allegedly causing financial loss of GH¢4.1 million to the state.
Answering questions under cross-examination from one of the lawyers for the second accused person, Philip Akpeena Assibit, the MCE said he was in his office when he was called to append his signature to the document.
“I did not read the document. I was just called to sign,” he declared, adding, “I did not see the document again until it was shown to me in court.”
He said under the terms of agreement, Goodwill International Ghana (GIG) was to facilitate the raising of funds for the creation of one million jobs for the youth, while GYEEDA and Wescap were responsible for the employment of the youth and the mobilisation of funds, respectively.
Mr Hamidan explained that the only thing he knew about the project was the role each of the parties in the MoU were expected to play and further noted that he trusted Pele, a former National Co-ordinator of GYEEDA, to do a diligent job.
Counsel for Assibit, Mr Raymond Bagnabu, suggested to the witness that he (witness) did not do his work properly by appending his signature to a document he had not studied but the witness disagreed, on the grounds that there was an officer detailed to handle the project.
He also explained that he was not a lawyer and therefore trusted GYEEDA’s solicitors to have perused the document.
The witness, who later informed the court that he was a Law student and in the same class with Pele, further noted that he had not been party to the preparation, admission and signing of the MoU.
Capacity of Assibit
The capacity of Assibit in the youth development programme took a greater part of proceedings when counsel sought to suggest that Assibit was a management consultant to GYEEDA, in rebuttal to Mr Hamidan’s claim that he (Mr Hamidan) did not know Assibit’s capacity.
Mr Hamidan, in his testimony, alluded to the fact that Assibit was a member of a delegation that had visited the then Vice-President John Dramani Mahama with a proposal to create one million jobs for the youth of the country, but Mr Bagnabu tried to pin down the witness to admit that Assibit was, indeed, a consultant who was widely recognised by the World Bank and GYEEDA.
However, the witness refused to be cowed into accepting that.
He went on further to tell the court that an official of the World Bank had, at one of the meetings at GYEEDA, insisted that his outfit did not need the presence of a representative from either GIG or the Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI) at any of the World Bank meetings with GYEEDA.
Mr Bagnabu described Mr Hamidan’s explanation as an afterthought and argued that the witness was denying the content of the MoU because it recognised Assibit as a consultant, but the witness denied that assertion.
Counsel pulled out an official letter which suggested that Assibit was recognised by the government and was selected to join a delegation to visit Jamaica, Japan and the Czech Republic.
In reply to counsel’s suggestions that Assibit was a consultant for GYEEDA, Mr Hamidan swore by the Holy Quran that it was not so and insisted the World Bank representative did not want to have anything to do with Assibit and GIG.
“I swear by the Holy Quran. I am an Alhaji and I will not lie about this,” Mr Hamidan stressed.
He also denied suggestions from counsel that he (Mr Hamidan) was part of the delegation that visited the three countries to understudy youth programmes.
World Bank Grant
According to the prosecution, Assibit put in false claims that he had secured a $65-million grant from the World Bank for the youth programme and thereby succeeded in receiving GH¢4.1 million in payments.
However, Mr Bagnabu managed to bring out documents which revealed that two former Ministers of State and a former Greater Accra Regional Co-ordinator of GYEEDA had publicly acknowledged the receipt of the said $65-million from the World Bank.
The witness, however, denied knowledge of those pronouncements and insisted that the GIG had not come up with any exit plan for the youth as of the time he (Mr Hamidan) was leaving office.
Hearing continues on March 3, 2014.