Abuga Pele and Phillip Akpeena Assibit
There was a hot argument over whether the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) had an exit plan when the infamous Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) case resumed yesterday.
Raymond Bagnabu, counsel for Phillip Akpeena Assibit and Nuru Hamidan, the first Prosecution Witness (PW1) had series of exchanges over the exit plan which counsel insisted was non-existent until its introduction in or about October 2010.
However, Alhaji Hamidan who is currently the Municipal Chief Executive at Asokore Mampong Assembly in the Ashanti Region told the packed Financial Court in Accra presided over by Justice Afia Asare-Botwe that as far as he was concerned, there was an exit plan dating back to 2009.
Incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) for Chiana-Paga, Abuga Pele and Mr. Assibit, Chief Executive Officer of Goodwill International Group (GIG) are standing trial for their various roles which the Attorney General’s Department says has caused huge financial loss to the state.
Until last year, Abuga Pele was the National Coordinator of NYEP now GYEEDA and 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.
End of Cross-Examination
Mr. Assibit’s counsel was able to conclude the cross-examination of PW1 who had served as deputy coordinator in charge of operations and later administration and the witness told the court he could not recall some dates on which certain important events took place at the NYEP.
Counsel: when was the Youth Enterprise Development Project (YEDP) launched?
Witness: I do not recall the date.
Counsel: It was launched on or about September 27, 2011.
Witness: I do not recall. I am aware of the launch of the YEDP project but I do not recall the date.
Counsel then put it to the witness that at the YEDP launch, the then Vice President John Mahama had delegated the then deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah to deliver a speech on his behalf and it was at that programme that the government announced a well structured exit plan for beneficiaries of the modules, but the witness said he did not recall.
Counsel pressed that when the NYEP organized a press conference to deny criticisms that the authorities were sacking beneficiaries engaged under the previous regime, the National Coordinator (Abuga Pele) had made it clear that the NYEP did not have an exit plan but Alhaji Hamidan insisted it did.
The witness also said he did recall the number of beneficiaries that had exited under the programme and dismissed counsel’s suggestion that it was as a result of the non-existence of an exit programme that GIG was engaged.
‘There was an exit plan before the GIG was introduced to us,’ the witness testified.
He said he was aware that there was a steering committee for the YEDP but said he was not aware if Assibit was part of the committees.
When counsel suggested to him that he had come to court to tell a pack of lies Alhaji Hamidan said, ‘I swore by the Holy Quran and there is no way I will tell lies to the court,’ before Assibit’s cross-examination ended.
Abuga Pele’s Turn
Abuga Pele’s legal team then took the mantle as Carl Adongo offered to ‘seal PW1′s mouth’ with a few questions.
The witness admitted to the court that he had good working relationship with his boss, Abuga Pele, saying ‘I never had any problem with him.’
He said he trusted Abuga Pele as they worked together and admitted he signed as witness the MoU between the NYEP and GIG without reading the contents.
Sitting continues on Thursday, March 20.
By William Yaw Owusu
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