GYEEDA rot: State completes evidence in chief with first witness

The state Wednesday wrapped up its evidence with the first prosecution witness in the matter in which a former National Coordinator of GYEEDA, Abuga Pele and one other are being accused of defrauding the state.

Led by a state attorney Evelyn Keelson, a former Deputy Coordination of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), now the Ghana Youth Employment and Entreprneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), Mr. Nuru Hamidan, gave evidence the prosecution believes makes out its case against Messrs Pele and Philip Akpeena Assibit of the Goodwill International Group.

The two are facing 19 counts of defrauding by false pretense, dishonestly causing loss to public property, abetment of crime and willfully causing financial loss to the state.

The former National Coordinator of GYEEDA, Mr Abuga Pele, who is the second accused, is facing four counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state, two counts of abetment of crime and one count of intentionally misapplying public property.

On his part, the first accused, Mr. Assibit is facing six counts of defrauding by false pretences and five counts of dishonestly causing loss to public property. 

They both pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The case of the state as presented by a Principal State Attorney, Mrs Evelyn Keelson, is that Mr. Abuga Pele without authorization signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the GIG on behalf of GYEEDA, providing grounds for Mr. Philip Assibit to claim and be paid huge sums of money.

The state Attorney said between May 2011 and May 2012, Mr. Assibit and the GIG made claims for payment for services rendered GYEEDA.

GIG, Mrs Keelson said, claimed to have provided consultancy services on exit strategies for GYEEDA (then NYEP), financial engineering leading to the World Bank approving a $65 million loan to GYEEDA and “recruited and trained 250 youth to support the implementation of what was referred to as the world Bank funded Youth Entreprise Development Programme (NYED).”

The State Attorney told the court that Mr. Assibit’s claims were false but were justified by Mr. Abuga Pele.

On the basis of that justification, Mr. Assibit and the GIG were paid GH¢3,330,568.53, the court heard.

The GIG Chief Executive, according to the prosecution, further received an amount of GH¢835,000.00 “under the guise of…tracer studies for the World Bank.”

The Principal State Attorney argued that the GIG, represented by Mr. Assibit “was never appointed a consultant to NYEP (now GYEEDA), he has not provided any exit plan and strategy for [GYEEDA] modules;…and he has not conducted any financial engineering for the approval of a World Bank facility of $65 million as claimed and supported by…[Mr Abuga Pele].”

Speaking to these issues, the first prosecution witness said following a proposal submitted by the GIG, a delegation in cluding Mr. Pele, Mr. Assibit, himself (Hamidan) and other people approached then Vice-President John Mahama and put before him a proposal by Goodwill to create one million jobs and how to raise funding for it.

He said the Vice-President then (now President) advised them to contact the World Bank Country Director at the time, Ishak Diwan, because “he was aware of some funding at World Bank.”

Mr Hamidan claimed that he was not aware of any financial engineering having been done by GIG.

On the subject of recruitment of 250 youth to support the implementation of what was referred to as the world Bank funded Youth Entreprise Development Programme (NYED), the witness said the recruitment was done by GYEEDA.

He insisted that the agency implemented its own exit strategies contrary to claims by the first accused, Mr Assibit, that he consulted for GYEEDA on exit strategies for beneficiaries of the programme.

After the state wrapped up its evidence, Mr. Raymond Bagnabu, lawyer for Mr Assibit started his cross-examination.

He pointed out to the witness that he (Mr Hamidan) had witnessed a document, Terms of Works, which formed the basis for the work Goodwill International did for GYEEDA.

In respect of the 65 million dollar funding from the World Bank, Mr. Bagnabu read from publications allegedly posted on the website of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the supervisory ministry for GYEEDA, in which the immediate past minister Kofi Humado said that GYEEDA had obtained $65 million with the help of Goodwill International.

The witness said he couldn’t comment on that.
Mr. Bagnabu stood down his cross-examination, saying he would continue after obtaining a record of the witness’ testimony.

The court, presided presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, adjourned the hearing to Thursday, February 13, 2014.

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