The Financial Division of the High Court has ordered former boss of the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), Abuga Pele and another, to open their defence for causing financial loss of GHC 4.1 million to the state.
Pele and Philip Akpeena Assibit, a private businessman are to open their defence on July 13, 2015.
Lawyers for the two had filed a submission of no case praying the court to free them but the trial judge, Mrs Justice Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe, held a different view on the grounds that the prosecution had established a prima face case against them.
The two kept their composure and left the courtroom in the company of their lawyers Carl Adongo and Raymond Bagnabu.
Pele was alleged to have recommended payment of the said amount to Assibit, with the explanation Assibit had secured a $65 million facility from the World Bank for a Youth Enterprise Development Programme (YEDP), trained 250 youth as well as conducted tracer studies for an exit strategy for the said youth.
But the court held that the prosecution had led evidence to prove the said claims were false and for that reason, it was important for the accused persons to open their defence to discredit the evidence led by the prosecution.
The defence team had also argued Assibit never held himself as a consultant but the trial judge read documents and memos to prove he Assibit) had indeed held himself as such at all material times, and had even signed documents to that effect.
These and other evidence led by the prosecution, according to the court, had shifted the burden on the accused persons to prove their innocence.
A Chief State Attorney, Mrs Evelyn Keelson, led the prosecution to call seven witnesses. She announced the closure of the prosecution’s case on April 20, 2015, the lawyer for Pele, Mr Adongo, finished cross-examining the investigator in the case.
The investigator, Mrs Diana Adu-Anane, began testifying on March 17, 2015.
The other prosecution witnesses were Alhaji Nuru Hamidan, formerly of GYEEDA, Mohammed Pelpuo also of GYEEDA, Ms Gladys Ghartey of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP), Mr Clement Humado, a former Minister of Youth and Sports, Dr Sulley Ali Gariba of the Management Productivity and Development Institute (MDPI) and Mr Eric Sunu, an internal auditor.
The 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, resulting in the government parting with GH¢4.1 million.
Pele is alleged to have acted in a manner resulting in the loss of the amount to the state.
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.
Facts of the case
The facts of the case were that in 2009, Pele, on assumption of office as the National Co-ordinator of then NYEP, entered into a contract with Assibit, a representative of Goodwill International Group (GIG).
Under the terms of the agreement, the NYEP was described as the ‘host’, while the GIG was tagged as the ‘strategic partner’.
According to the prosecution, the parties agreed to combine their labour, properties and skills for the purpose of engaging in resource mobilisation, investor sourcing, management consulting, capacity building, career development, training services, among other jobs.
Per the agreement, the GIG was responsible for resource mobilisation and undertook to provide preliminary funds for the development of the programme, while the parties agreed 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 the 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),” it said.
Continuing with the evidence gathered against the accused persons, Mrs Keelson told the court that the representations put forward by Assibit were supported by 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 the GIG was never appointed a consultant to the NYEP.
The prosecution said Assibit had failed to provide any exit plan and strategy for the 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 been corroborated by Pele.
“Indeed, there has not been any approval by the World Bank of $65 million for the NYEP,” it pointed out, and said investigations also discovered that in August 2012, Assibit was paid an additional GH¢835,000 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 to Assibit.
Pele’s actions, according to the prosecution, had caused financial loss to the state and it was based on those facts that the accused persons had been put before the court.