The Executive Director of the National Service Scheme (NSS), Alhaji Alhassan Mohammed Imoro, was yesterday remanded by the Accra Circuit Court for allegedly stealing GHc86.9 million belonging to the state.
He was picked up last Monday after 27 district directors, 10 regional directors and three directors from the NSS headquarters had been picked up for questioning.
They have all been granted bail by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI). Some or all of them will be arraigned after investigations have been completed.
Alhaji Imoro, who was clad in a light blue locally-made attire, pleaded not guilty to one count of stealing, contrary to Section 124 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, Act 29 0f 1960, but was remanded to reappear on October 27, 2014.
The accused person was brought to court at exactly 2:30 p.m. He looked calm and managed occasional smiles during the court hearing.
Refusal of bail
Refusing an application from Alhaji Imoro’s lawyer for bail, the court, presided over by Mr Francis Obiri, upheld the prosecution’s prayer for a remand warrant to enable investigators to complete investigations into the alleged massive rot in the operations of the NSS.
Investigations conducted by the BNI indicate that 22,612 ghost names were generated at the headquarters of the NSS, resulting in the loss of GH¢7.9 million in July, 2014 alone.
According to the prosecution, Alhaji Imoro, from September, 2013 to July, 2014, stole a total sum of GH¢86.9 million from the state’s coffers.
Upholding a prayer from Deputy Superintendent of Police Mr A. A. Annor, for a remand warrant, the judge said, “I am of the view that the prosecution should be given the opportunity in this exercise.
“I, therefore, hold the view that it will be proper, fair, just and in consonance with equity and good conscience to accede to the prayer of the prosecution.”
Counsel for Alhaji Imoro, Ms Hanifa Yahaya, pleaded with the court to grant her client bail because the law allowed bail for such offences.
She said her client was a civil servant with many years’ experience, a father, had a fixed place of abode and would, therefore, not jump bail.
Ms Yahaya gave an assurance that her client would co-operate with investigators if granted bail.
Prosecution opposes bail
But Mr Annor , who had earlier urged the court to remand the accused person, disagreed with the defence counsel’s position on the grounds that “we want to get to the bottom of this matter”.
“He may be exonerated after investigations or more evidence may crop up against him. It is important we are allowed to complete investigations in its entirety,” he said.
According to him, Alhaji Imoro was needed to assist in the investigations and, therefore, it was too early for him to be granted bail.
“The presence of the accused person in our office will facilitate investigations,” Mr Annor added.
Ruling on the bail application, the court held that it had considered the argument from the parties in the case but it had the discretion to either grant or refuse bail.
Under the circumstance, the court was of the considered opinion that investigators needed to be given ample time to complete investigations.
“Bail would be declined at this stage. The defence team can repeat its bail application on the next adjourned date,” Mr Obiri said.
He, nonetheless, directed the prosecution to allow the defence lawyer to have access to her client within normal working hours.
According to the facts of the case, the BNI in July, 2014 began a nationwide investigation into the operations of the NSS with regard to the payment of monthly allowances to service persons.
It said investigations so far revealed that for every month starting from the month of September 2013 to the month of July 2014, GHc7.9 million was paid to 22,612 non-existing/ghosts service persons, resulting in a total loss of GHc86.9 million within the period.
The facts went on to state that it came up during the investigations that the ghost names were generated at the NSS headquarters “under the supervision of the Executive Director; thus the accused person.”
“The accused instructed and the names were added to the payment vouchers (PVs) of all the districts that service persons were rendering their services.
The payment vouchers were distributed to the regional national service scheme directors and on receipt, they also distributed to the district directors under their jurisdiction,” the facts continued.
Alhaji Imoro then signed cheques, which were deposited at banks in the various districts service persons had been posted and thus drew their allowances from.
“The accused person also issued instructions to the district directors through the regional directors that after the allowances of genuine service persons have been paid, the money for the non-existing/ghost service persons should be withdrawn and sent to him through the regional directors,” the facts of the case said.
According to the prosecution, Alhaji Imoro allegedly received the GHc86.9 million from his 10 regional directors.
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