Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Saturday, June 20, 2015
An Accra Financial Court has ruled that Abuga Pele former National Coordinator of National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) now Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) who is also NDC MP for Chiana Paga, and another have a case to answer.
The court presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare Botwe ordered the accused to open their defense on July 13, starting with the MP’s co-accused Philip Akpeena Assibit, CEO of Goodwill International Group (GIG), who is the first accused person.
The two had filed ‘Submission of no case to answer’ applications separately but the court dismissed them yesterday and said the prosecution has been able to lead prima facie evidence at the close of its case in April.
On the charge sheet presented by the Attorney General’s Department, the two men are facing a total of 19 counts ranging from defrauding by false pretences to willfully causing financial loss to the state.
Assibit alone is charged with six counts of defrauding by false pretences to the tune of $2.028,605.20 and another five counts of dishonestly causing loss to public property to the tune of GH¢3.305,568.53.
Abuga Pele, the second accused on the other hand, is charged with two counts of abetment, one count of intentionally misapplying public property and five counts of willfully causing financial loss to the state all to the tune of GH¢3.305,568.53.
In a long ruling which took about one-and-half hours to read, the judge said some of the matters raised by the accused persons in their applications were issues that would require testimonies on oath to enable the court to come to a conclusion.
The court said that it needed to consider whether the prosecution had led evidence against the accused and in the process was able to establish prima facie case against them.
The judge however, conceded that the ‘standard of the law’ at this stage of the trial is not as high compared to when the accused completed their testimonies and the entire case had closed.
The court said the prosecution led evidence to the effect that Abuga Pele (NYEP) through MDPI and Assibit (GIG) signed MoU to offer consultancy services among other at the blind side of then sector Minister Akua Sena Dansoa.
On the issue of defrauding by false pretences, the court held that Assibit obtained the consent from the government to part with various sums of money and in the numerous correspondences the accused had presented himself as Managing Consultant using Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI) and GIG letterheads.
“It is the circumstances and justification of the payment which is in contention and it is the accused who can best explain what the prosecution has said,” the court held.
The judge said that it was the prosecution’s case that Assibit wrote to the Ministry of Youth and Sports that the $65 million World Bank had been secured and wanted payment for consultancy services that his GIG rendered including pre-financing the whole deal but the state has insisted that the facility was yet to arrive.
“There is sufficient prima facie case made regarding the charge of defrauding by false pretences and A1 is required to open his defense.”
On the abetment of crime against Abuga Pele, the court said that it was the duty of the prosecution to prove that the NDC MP purposely aided or facilitated it to enable Assibit to receive the various payments and the memo he (Abuga Pele) wrote to the minister justifying why Assibit should be paid was already in evidence.
“He (Abuga Pele) has to open his defense for the court to make total conclusions,” the judge said.
On intentionally misapplying public property, the court said Abuga Pele according to the prosecution recommended the payment of GH¢3.330,568.53 ($1.948,626.68) and therefore was required to open his defense to explain what the prosecution was insisting there was no work done.
On dishonestly causing loss to public property, the court said that there was already prima facie case against Assibit on the charge of defrauding by false pretences and “it necessarily implies to the charge of dishonestly causing loss to public property.”
On willfully causing financial loss to the state, the court said the prosecution was able to lead evidence to the effect that Abuga Pele recommended payment of ‘significant’ amount to be paid to Assibit non-existing services.
The court said the prosecution is holding that the Tracer Study was not conducted as claimed and Assibit further took credit for Exit Strategies which he did not prepare and Abuga Pele at a point wrote to the ministry that because Assibit was able to help secure $65 million from the World Bank as consultant, he should be paid $2.280,605 which is 3% of the whole facility.
The judge said Abuga Pele made ‘categorical’ statements in the memo and it was up to the MP to open his defense to prove that the steps he took did not cause financial loss as claimed by the prosecution.
The court also said that it was for Abuga Pele to demonstrate to the court that the Attorney General erred in preferring all the charges against him as argued in his application.