No Show At Abuga Pele Trial

Abuga Pele and Philip Akpeena Assibit
The much talked about Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) trial could not proceed at the Accra Financial Court because the machine used to record the proceedings broke down.

As a result, the trail judge, Justice Afia Asare-Botwe had to adjourn proceedings until Tuesday March 25 and Wednesday March 26 for the case to proceed.

The case had been fixed for March 20 to be continued the next day but the judge also said she had been selected to participate in a training programme.

She apologized profusely to the bench for the development and explained that the notice to participate in the training programme came in rather late.

Accused persons
Incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) for Chiana-Paga, Abuga Pele and Philip 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, Abuga Pele was the National Coordinator of National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), now 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 two have pleaded not guilty and are currently on bail.

The NDC MP is facing 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 and 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.

Prosecution’s Facts
According to the prosecution, in 2009, Abuga Pele was appointed the National Co-ordinator of NYEP, a social intervention programme, to provide job opportunities to unemployed youth.

He was subsequently said to have been introduced to Philip Akpeena Assibit somewhere in 2010, as someone who could help the NYEP to meet some of its objectives.

Soon after the meeting, Abuga Pele was said to have, on behalf of the NYEP, entered into MoU with GIG represented by Philip Assibit.

The prosecution said contrary to the normal practice, the MoU was signed on behalf of the NYEP by Abuga Pele without any recourse to the then sector Minister, Akua Sena Dansua or the Attorney-General.

Under the MoU, the NYEP was described as the ‘Host’ and GIG as a ‘Strategic Partner’.

The parties agreed to ‘combine their labour, properties and skills for the purpose of engaging in resource mobilization, investor sourcing, management consulting, capacity building, career development and training services among others,’ according to the prosecution.

GIG was responsible for resource mobilization and undertook to provide preliminary funds for the development of the programme. The parties, according to the prosecution, agreed to share profits equally.

The prosecution, however, noted that there was nothing on record in terms of business proposals or documents forming the basis of engaging GIG as a Strategic Partner.

Between May 2011 and May 2012, Assibit was said to have made a number of payment claims for consultancy services allegedly rendered to the NYEP.

These representations were noted to have been supported by Mr. Pele, who used them as the basis for justifying, recommending and approving a total amount of GH¢3,330,568.53, the equivalent of $1,948,626.68, to Assibit.

Abuga Pele was alleged to have claimed that Assibit’s work had directly resulted in a $65million World Bank facility for the NYEP.

The prosecution, however, disclosed that all these representations were false and that GIG was never appointed a consultant to NYEP, while Assibit did not provide any exit plan and strategy for NYEP modules.

Apart from that, he was also said to have not conducted any financial engineering for the approval of a World Bank facility of $65million since there had not been any approval by the World Bank for the facility.

In August 2012, Assibit was said to have been paid an additional GH¢835,000 under the guise of what was referred to as tracer studies for the World Bank which he did not deserve, the prosecution said.

By William Yaw Owusu

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