A former Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Clement Kofi Humado, yesterday told the Financial Division of the High Court that he had approved the processing of $2 million for a consortium formed to access a $65-million World Bank facility for youth development programmes in the country.According to him, he acted based on his trust in a former National Co-ordinator of the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), Abuga Pele.
He said Pele had told him the said amount represented three per cent of the $65 million, instead of the initial 15 per cent the consortium had wanted to charge.
Testifying as the third prosecution witness in the GH¢4.1 million GYEEDA trial, the former minister told the court that Pele told him about efforts by a consortium, made up of the Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI) and a private firm, Goodwill International Ghana (GIG), to source the $65 million.
Pele and a representative of the GIG, Philip Akpeena Assibit, are facing various charges for causing financial loss of GH¢41.1 million to the state.
Memo for paymentMr Humado said Pele also informed him that then Vice-President John Dramani Mahama was in agreement with efforts at sourcing the funds from the World Bank and, indeed, later confirmed his approval of the sourcing of funds to him (Humado).
According to the witness, Pele also told him that in order to access the World Bank facility, the consortium had been engaged in a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2009, two years before he (Humado) was appointed to head the Youth and Sports Ministry.
He said Pele forwarded a memo dated April 20, 2011 to him (Humado), asking for reimbursement because the consortium had done some work to collate data to be forwarded to the World Bank.
Accompanying Pele’s letter were an invoice and a memo signed by Assibit.
Activities performed by the consortium were listed as labour policy review, action plan for Youth Enterprises Programme (YEP) development, exit programme for all YEP modules and the engagement of 250 people to collate data for the World Bank.
“I told him I was freshly appointed and had barely been at post for two months. I asked if he was satisfied with the deliverables and he said ‘yes’,” Mr Humado stated in reference to a conversation he had with Pele before approving the processing of payment.
He said he recalled telling Pele that he (Pele) was the overall technical and managerial head who was supposed to know better.
Mr Humado said he relied “very heavily” on Pele’s memo because he had little doubt about Pele’s advice and competence.
He said he also trusted Pele’s integrity as a former Member of Parliament.
The invoice and memos were tendered in evidence without objection from the defence team.
Pele’s viewThe witness said Pele had been of the view that the three per cent quotation was “very conservative and reasonable” and, therefore, sought approval for payment.
Mr Humado said he had a meeting with his chief director and internal auditor to discuss the issue and that at the said meeting, the two technical officers were of the view that they (technical officers) were not “too clear” about the relationship between the MDPI and the GIG.
That notwithstanding, the technical officers advised that it would be safer for the money to be paid to the MDPI, which was a state institution.
He said he then approved Pele’s memo on the premise that the money was “refundable”.
New InvoiceMr Humado said he later received an invoice from Assibit calling for the payment of GH¢835,000 for tracer studies conducted by the consortium.
Unlike the usual MDPI letterhead, he said, Assibit’s memo was on a different letterhead, which he described as “not usual”.
Aside from that, the witness said “it should not have come to me directly” and for that reason he minuted it and directed it to be sent to Pele for advice.
On September 3, 2012, the witness said Pele forwarded a memo asking for the release of GH¢835,000, being claims submitted by GIG for conducting tracer studies.
The memo, he explained, was accompanied by an invoice from GIG.
Strange developmentDescribing the GH¢835,000 as strange, Mr Humado said he could not tell whether or not the request formed part of the 2009 MoU and for that reason he directed that there should be a separate procurement for the GH¢835,000 claim but heard nothing on that issue again.
Mr Humado was led in evidence by a Chief State Attorney, Mrs Yvonne Attakorah-Obuobisa, and is billed to continue with his evidence-in-chief today.
According to the witness, Pele introduced Assibit to him as a consultant engaged by the MDPI to assist in oil and gas and other related matters.
BackgroundThe state has accused Assibit of putting in false claims that he had secured a $65-million World Bank funding for the creation of one million jobs for the youth, that claim resulting in the government parting with GH¢4.1 million.
Pele is alleged to have entered into a contract with Assibit to engage in activities which have injured the state financially.
Pele 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 has also pleaded not guilty to six counts of defrauding by false pretences and five counts of dishonestly causing loss to public property.
They are both on bail.