The Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) scandal trial entered its second day yesterday with interesting revelations at the High Court, Financial Division, in Accra.
The first prosecution witness, Nuru Hamidan, Municipal Chief Executive of Asokore Mampong Municipal Assembly in the Ashanti Region, was able to conclude his evidence-in-chief before being bombarded with questions from the defence team of one of the accused persons under cross-examination.
Incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) for Chiana-Paga, and Phillip Akpeena Assibit, Chief Executive Officer of Goodwill International Group (GIG), are standing trial for their various roles which the Attorney General’s Department said had caused huge financial loss to the State.
Until last year, was the National Coordinator of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), now the GYEEDA.
He is accused of wilfully causing financial loss to the State to the tune of GH¢3,330,568.53 while Assibit is being tried for defrauding the State of an amount equivalent to $1,948,626.68.
The presiding judge, Justice Afia Asare-Botwe, after Tuesday’s proceedings, had asked Assibit to remain seated in the courtroom until the court closed, as there were problems with his bail bond; but had satisfied the bail conditions and left.
DAILY GUIDE‘s investigations showed that Assibit could not complete the bail process and had to be kept by the investigators and it was also not clear if he was able to satisfy the conditions as at press time yesterday.
Raymond Bagnabu, lead counsel for Assibit, took on the Asokore Mampong MCE, who served as Coordinator for Operations and later Administration at the NYEP and he insisted before the packed court that he witnessed for only two Memoranda of Understanding entered into between Assibit’s firm GIG and the NYEP.
When counsel put it to PW1 that he signed more than two documents in respect of the youth enterprise development project, the MCE exploded, ‘My Lord, you have to prove’ and as a result, the judge advised him to answer questions and not challenge counsel.
Counsel again put it to the witness that apart from the two MoU, PW1 also witnessed another document on July 26, 2013 which specified the term of work for the project, which had been put together by Assibit’s GIG, but the witness denied this.
The witness insisted that he, together with the two accused persons, visited the office of then Vice President John Dramani Mahama but he did not know in what capacity Assibit had accompanied them to the presidency.
He also said he was not aware of a document Assibit had sent to the presidency when he accompanied them there, after counsel said his client had sent the proposal on June 15, 2010 and pursuant to that GIG had prepared a concept paper and budget leading to the signing of the MoU.
The witness insisted that after the meeting with the then Vice President, his involvement in the whole project for which the MoU was signed became limited, because a desk officer had been put in charge to liaise with the World Bank.
‘I am aware a proposal was sent to the World Bank but I am not aware who had prepared it,’ the witness said.
He told the court he did not specifically remember a project called Youth Employment Strategy launched at the plush Alisa Hotel in Accra by then sector Minister Akua Sena Dansua, claiming ‘the NYEP had a lot of programmes within a week.’
He said as at July 2013, when he was leaving GYEEDA, the World Bank’s $65million had not arrived and that the stringent requirements attached made it impossible for the funds to arrive so soon.
Counsel: Do you know Solomon Nii Afutu Quartey, Greater Accra Regional Coordinator of NYEP who worked directly under you?
Counsel: He granted an interview to the Ghana News Agency and said the World Bank had given $65 million to the NYEP.
Witness: He was not under me. I had moved from operations to administration.
Counsel: The then Minister of Youth and Sports, Clement Humado had said at the meet-the-press series that t he World Bank is to give Ghana an amount of $65 million to support the NYEP.
Witness: I am not aware.
Counsel: The Vice President, John Dramani Mahama also announced that the World Bank has supported the National Youth Employment Programme with $65 Million.
Witness: I am not aware
Concluding his evidence-in-chief, Nuru Hamidan told the court that the World Bank at a point wanted to know what GYEEDA was doing on the ground and therefore the management took the officials to the Kumasi Metropolis where all the modules were being run.
He said the bank requested an impact assessment through the exit programme and what he called a Tracer Study was prepared and added that he later heard that GIG had prepared that study.
He said, however, that when the Tracer Study was submitted the World Bank said there were certain requirements they were looking for which were not in the study.
He said he was not involved in the screening and selection of service providers who sent proposals for consideration but admitted that he witnessed the signing of MoU in which Assibit’s company was supposed to share profits with the NYEP.
In the new charges preferred by the AG, the NDC MP for Chiana-Paga will face six counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state under section 179A (3) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), two counts of abetment under sections 20(1) and 131(1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) and one count of intentionally misapplying public property, contrary to section 1(2) of the Public Property Protection Act, 1977 (SMCD 140).
Mr. Assibit, who is the first accused person on the other hand, is facing six counts of defrauding by false pretences, contrary to section 131(1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) and five counts of dishonestly causing loss to public property contrary to section 2(1) of the Public Property Protection Act, 1977 (SMCD 140).
Sitting continues today.
By William Yaw Owusu
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