State prosecutors have preferred fresh charges against Alhaji Alhassan Imoro, former Executive Director of the National Service Secretariat (NSS), as the trial of 34 other persons implicated in the alleged massive fraud that hit the scheme begins.
Alhaji Imoro was earlier arraigned before the Economic, Financial and Tax Division of an Accra High Court over allegations that he had from the months of September 2013 to July 2014, at the NSS headquarters in Accra, stolen GH¢86.9 million belonging to the state.
According to the prosecution, an amount of GH¢7.9 million was paid to 22,612 non-existent or ‘ghost’ service persons – a claim he had denied.
For the second time yesterday, the state prosecution, led by Penelope-Ann Mamattah, a Chief State Attorney, dropped the earlier charge of stealing against the former NSS boss and substituted it with fresh charges to include 34 other accused persons.
They are Alhaji Alhassan Imoro, former Executive Director; Nelson Ayeltiga, former accountant; Gloria Aku-Mensah, Ag. Internal Auditor; Alhassan Iddrisu, Ag. Head, PPME; Ebenezer Anim Dankwah, Director, National Voluntary Service Programme; Sammy Ofori, Internal Auditor; Seth Nana Obugyei Asiedu, former Director, Greater Accra Region; Nana Fosu Amankwa Agyapong, Director, Eastern Region; Gabriel Nyorke, Director, Volta Region; Ali Ahmed Awubila, Director, Central Region and Michael Tottimeh, former Director, Western Region.
The others are Ebenezer Edzii, Director, Brong Ahafo Region; Shaibu Termi Abiru, Director, Northern Region; George Dasah Naanwinyelle, former Director, Upper East Region; Dominic Delle, Accountant, Northern Region; Samuel Larbi-Siaw, Accountant, Brong-Ahafo Region; John Kwame Ayew, Accountant, Volta Region; Francis Himbuah, Accountant, Eastern Region and Nicholas Senti, Accountant, Western Region.
Also in the dock are Solomon Kurug, Aliyu Husein, Alexander Agumey and Seth Quarteyli Quartey, Accountants for Upper East, Upper West, Central and Greater Accra Regions respectively.
The rest are Cletus Kaba, Raphael Adu-Agyepong, Theophilus Kwofie, Dominc Popula Maabesog, Joseph Bati, Festus Obeng-Sefa and Emmanuel Asante, Administrators for Northern, Ashanti, Western, Upper East, Upper West, Central and Greater Accra Regions respectively.
Also standing trial are Helena Bokoro, Secretary, Northern Regional Secretariat; Motaro Yussif, Secretary, Tamale Metro Office; Helena Mensah, Personal Secretary to the Ashanti Regional Director and Freda Donkor, Typist for the Ashanti Regional Secretariat.
The charges preferred against the 34 persons range from conspiracy to stealing.
Alhaji Imoro is facing additional three charges of ‘giving bribe to influence public officer.’
The prosecution alleges that Alhaji Imoro, within the said period at the NSS headquarters in Accra, dishonestly appropriated GH¢28,749,395.80 belonging to the state.
The former NSS boss is said to have, on August 1 and September 26, 2014, given GH¢ 25,000 and GH¢15,000 respectively to one Charles Kipo, a BNI investigator, to influence him in his (Alhaji Imoro’s) favour.
Appearing before the court presided over by Justice Georgina Mensah-Datsa, the accused persons variously denied the offences.
Represented by their lawyers, they were granted bail by the court.
Alhaji Imoro was to be on his former bail in the sum of GH¢90 million with three sureties, all to be justified with properties worth GH¢1 million.
The hearing of the case has been adjourned to June 5, 2015.
Ms Mamattah said in July 2014 the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) commenced a nationwide investigation into the operations of the NSS with regard to the payment of monthly allowances to service persons.
She said that was after a source report received by the Bureau had indicated malfeasance in the postings and payment of allowances.
According to the Chief State Attorney, investigations established that between September 2013 and August 2014, the payroll of the NSS was bloated by 31,516 names for both the National Service postings and the national voluntary service recruitment.
Ms Mamattah said during that service year, National Service persons were paid GH¢243 per month and GH¢350 per month from January to August 2014.
The Chief State Attorney alleged that an elaborate plot hatched by Alhaji Imoro, supported by senior officers of the scheme at the National Secretariat and all the regional directors of the scheme, and implemented by the district directors, involved the generation of ‘ghost’ names at the head office of the scheme in Accra.
She said the ghost names were added to the genuine names on the nominal rolls based on which payment vouchers were prepared, adding that the payment vouchers were prepared by the Chief Accountant, Ayeltiga, and passed on to the internal auditor.
Ms Mamattah said Aku Mensah, whose duty it was to audit and vet all the accounts and payment vouchers, did not do so and yet passed them on to Ayeltiga and received regular payments from some regional directors.
She said the ‘ghost’ names which were detected in all the districts in the country were mostly posted to the rural areas and in some cases, to non-existent institutions and departments.
Ms Mamattah said Alhaji Imoro never dealt directly with the district directors and that the ‘ghost’ names were sent by the accused to the regional directors with firm instructions as to how much was to be sent to him every month.
The number of names, the prosecutor said, Alhaji Imoro gave to each regional director depended on the trust and loyalty he had developed with each of them.
By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson
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