A controversial document yesterday halted the trial of Abuga Pele, former National Coordinator of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) now GYEEDA, and Philip Akpeena Assibit, CEO of Goodwill International Group (GIG), who are being tried for their roles in the infamous GYEEDA scandal.
It also emerged at the trial that investigations gathered that over $2 million was first paid for supposed service rendered by Assibit’s GIG and another over GH¢8 million also paid for oil and gas training run by GIG.
The Attorney General’s Department was trying to tender in evidence a document entitled, Terms of work, which they said Assibit had presented to the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) during investigations to justify the payment of huge sums of money to the accused.
The defence teams took turns to raise vehement objection to the tendering of the document and Justice Afia Serwah Asare Botwe, trying the case, said she needed to give a ruling on whether or not to accept the prosecution’s document and subsequently adjourned proceedings until today.
Mrs Diana Adu Anane, a deputy investigator at EOCO, had mounted the witness box as the seventh prosecution witness (PW7) and was being led in evidence by Mrs. Evelyn Keelson, a chief state attorney, when the authenticity of the document halted the trial.
According to the witness, Assibit had presented to EOCO a photocopy of the ‘Terms of work’ document which she said was supposed to be the working document of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between NYEP and Assibit’s GIG, but added, ‘We concluded that it was an after-thought.’
She told the packed court that the document was found to be a creation of Assibit’s and said the MoU was just to make GIG strategic partners.
‘The terms on his document contradicted what was on the original MoU between the NYEP and GIG with West Capital Limited,’ the witness said.
When the prosecutor sought to tender Assibit’s document in evidence, his counsel, Raymond Bagnabu, objected saying ‘This is not the document A1 (Assibit) submitted to EOCO.
‘It is a creation of witness who has simply removed the signature page of the MoU and attached to this (Terms of work) document.’ Counsel added that once EOCO is an institution of record, Assibit would have been made to initial the document as coming from the accused.
Karl Adongo, representing Abuga Pele, also objected saying, ‘The last page of the document belongs to a different distinct document.’
He said that all the documents tendered by the prosecution had been signed but the instant document was not endorsed saying, ‘This page is contrived with the ultimate aim to do our clients in and we will resist it with our might and strength.’
Counsel said Abuga Pele had denied ever signing any document at EOCO and pointed out, ‘The last page before the signature page is 11 and logically it should follow with 12 but the signature page as we have it, is 5.’
Replying, the prosecutor said, ‘Nobody said his client signed any document. The investigator testified and laid enough foundation as to how they came by the document.’
She said it was Assibit himself who made a reference to the Terms of work in his demand letter and when EOCO asked him to submit it, he brought the document in contention.
‘The signature page which is the MoU has been detached and attached to the document A1 brought as Terms of Work. It is the duty of the investigator to make this known to the court and it should be admitted so that if counsels have anything, they can ask during cross-examination,’ she told the court.
Assibit, Abuga Pele Roles
Commencing her evidence in-chief, Mrs. Adu Anane told the court that it was a joint team of police and EOCO officers that investigated the matter and found out that the two payments were made to Assibit’s GIG.
She said they found a letter written by Assibit on Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI) letterhead and the accused had described himself as a managing consultant but upon investigation, they realised it was a false representation.
She said Assibit’s letter had stated that the supposed service was rendered with MDPI and that the work was 70 percent complete, adding that he (Assibit) had said he pre-financed it.
The investigator told the court that Abuga Pele wrote to then Minister of Youth and Sports, Clement Kofi Humado, to justify the terms and recommended payment for work done by Assibit.
She also said that there was no consultancy agreement between GIG and MDPI in July 2009 for which Abuga Pele recommended payment and said rather the agreement was between MDPI and Goodwill Solutions Associates Africa represented by Assibit.
The witness further said the 2010 agreement was between GIG and MDPI and another agreement in 2011 with GIG for Exit Strategies for GYEEDA beneficiaries which was duly signed but said it was never operational because it was dependent on the $65 million World Bank loan which is yet to arrive.
By William Yaw Owusu
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