There was drama at the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) trial when a prosecution witness said he did not read a vital document before appending his signature to it.
According to the defence team, a document on youth employment strategy which formed the basis for a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), Goodwill International Group and West Capital had always referred to their client as a consultant to the programme now called GYEEDA.
However, when Nuru Hamidan, former NYEP Deputy Coordinator in charge of Operations and later Administration resumed his cross-examination, he told the Financial Court in Accra that he did not read the content of the MoU but appended his signature to it.
‘I was in a meeting when I was called to come and witness,’ Alhaji Hamidan, who is currently the Municipal Chief Executive at Asokore Mampong Assembly in the Ashanti Region told the packed court presided over by Justice Afia Asare-Botwe.
‘I swear by the Holy Quran…I am an Alhaji, I went to Mecca…Anybody who knows me knows that I am a forthright person,’ the prosecution’s first witness exploded when counsel put it to him that he was not telling the truth to the court.
Incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) for Chiana-Paga, and Phillip Akpeena Assibit, Chief Executive Officer of 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 NYEP now the GYEEDA and he is accused of willfully 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.
Counsel for Assibit (Raymond Bagnabu): Before signing you did not even read the title of the document. Is that what you want the court to believe?
Witness: My Lord, I said at the meeting I was called to witness.
Counsel: You did not read the covering page?
Witness: I was in a meeting when I was called to come and witness.
Counsel: I am putting it to you that you are not remembering for conducive purposes because the covering page will state A1 (Assibit) was the consultant
Witness: I think I read the MoU, the covering page here in court and it stated that NYEP is providing job for the youth, West Cap is helping source for funding and Goodwill International Group is facilitating. That is what I know about this.
Counsel: Page two of Paragraph 3 of Exhibit 1, can you read it.
Witness: Whereas the second party has already been engaged as a consultant with the responsibility for undertaking sourcing, the sourcing of funders as well as investors, managing the execution of the project.
Counsel: The arrangement between West Cap, GIG and NYEP concerned YEDP project
Counsel: With paragraph two of the MoU stated, A1 (Assibit) had already been engaged as a consultant
Witness: As I indicated we were in a meeting when I was asked to come and sign the agreement. My coordinators will bear me out. We did not read the entire document. For the sake of good working relation with my coordinator, I signed but did not read the document.
Counsel: You did not do your work properly as a deputy national coordinator when you signed documents without reading them.
Witness: I was not in charge of legal services of NYEP. I was a deputy national coordinator and anything legal is scrutinized. I trust my boss. I knew that he had gone through everything.
The Vice President’s Office
The witness told the court that he did not know in what capacity, Assibit accompanied him and to the office of then Vice President John Dramani Mahama.
Counsel: At the time you, A1 and A2 went to the Vice President, you knew you had signed a document establishing his position that A1 was going there as a consultant. The document had expressly described him as such.
Witness: I have said in the agreement GIG is facilitating the project because the idea had come from them. There is no doubt what the project was about. As to engaging him as a consultant I did not know. I said GYEEDA is providing jobs for the youth, West Cap is helping source for funding and GIG facilitating but I did not read the content ditto ditto to be able to know the content.
The witness said subsequently when the Vice President directed them to the World Bank, they had several meetings with the bank and admitted that GIG and MDPI’s representatives were present at some of the meetings.
The witness told the court that the World Bank at a point in the consultations made it clear that they did not want any intermediary in the form of consultant and even mentioned one Razia Khan who had told them (NYEP) that the bank was not interested in consultants.
‘The GIG as at the time I was leaving the NYEP had said they did not need consultants. They said they wanted to deal with us directly,’ he said. And when counsel asked him to provide any document to back his claim, the witness insisted, ‘We were calling them and Razia Khan said no you can’t invite them!’
He admitted that a delegation which included Assibit’s GIG representative as consultant, visited Kenya even though he claimed that the bank had said they were not interested in consultants.
He further admitted that another delegation under the auspices of the World Bank was sent to Latin America to study the youth employment system.
Counsel listed the team as , one Mohammed of NYEP, James Kofi Fionu (NYEP), Nuru Hamidan (PW1), Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Saibu Ahmed (MDPI), Assibit as managing consultant, Caesar Abagali, one Frank from the Vice President’s Office, one Ahmed from MOFEP and Sam Pee Yalley from the Ministry of Employment.
The witness however responded that he was aware a team was put together for a Latin America trip but he was not part of it.
The witness also said he could not identify a bulky document called ‘Youth Employment Strategy and Action Plan- A mid-term strategy 2011-2015 for the NYEP’ and added that he did not see that document whilst at the NYEP as deputy coordinator.
He said the World Bank project had a desk officer and added that he did not remember the launch of the project at Alisa Hotel in Accra which then Vice President Mahama, sector Minister Akua Sena Dansoa among other dignitaries attended.
By William Yaw Owusu
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