An Accra Financial Court has ruled that Abuga Pele, former National Coordinator of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) – now Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) – who is also National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Chiana Paga, and another person, have a case to answer.
The court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare Botwe, ordered the accused to open their defence on July 13, starting with the MP’s co-accused, Philip Akpeena Assibit, CEO of Goodwill International Group (GIG), who is the first accused person.
The two had filed ‘Submission of no case to answer’ applications separately but the court dismissed them yesterday and said the prosecution had been able to lead prima facie evidence at the close of its case in April.
On the charge sheet presented by the Attorney General’s Department, the two men are facing a total of 19 counts, ranging from defrauding by false pretences to willfully causing financial loss to the state.
Assibit alone is charged with six counts of defrauding by false pretences to the tune of $2.028,605.20 and other five counts of dishonestly causing loss to public property to the tune of GH¢3.305,568.53.
Abuga Pele, the second accused on the other hand, is charged with two counts of abetment, one count of intentionally misapplying public property and five counts of willfully causing financial loss to the state, all to the tune of GH¢3.305,568.53.
In a ruling which took about one-and-a-half hours to read, the judge said some of the matters raised by the accused persons in their applications were issues that would require testimonies on oath to enable the court to come to a conclusion.
The court said that it needed to consider whether the prosecution had led evidence against the accused and in the process was able to establish prima facie case against them.
The judge however, conceded that the ‘standard of the law’ at this stage of the trial is not as high, compared to when the accused completed their testimonies and the entire case had closed.
The court said the prosecution led evidence to the effect that Abuga Pele, through MDPI and Assibit signed an MoU to offer consultancy services among other things, at the blind side of the then sector Minister, Akua Sena Dansoa.
On the issue of defrauding by false pretences, the court held that Assibit obtained the consent from the government to part with various sums of money and in the numerous correspondences the accused had presented himself as Managing Consultant using Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI) and GIG letterheads.
‘It is the circumstances and justification of the payment which is in contention and it is the accused who can best explain what the prosecution has said,’ the court held.
The judge said that it was the prosecution’s case that Assibit wrote to the Ministry of Youth and Sports that the $65 million World Bank facility had been secured and wanted payment for consultancy services that his GIG rendered, including pre-financing the whole deal but the state had insisted that the facility was yet to arrive.
‘There is sufficient prima facie case made regarding the charge of defrauding by false pretences and A1 is required to open his defence.’
On the abetment of crime against Abuga Pele, the court said that it was the duty of the prosecution to prove that he purposely aided or facilitated it to enable Assibit to receive the various payments and the memo he (Abuga Pele) wrote to the minister justifying why Assibit should be paid was already in evidence.
‘He (Abuga Pele) has to open his defence for the court to make total conclusions,’ the judge said.
On intentionally misapplying public property, the court said Abuga Pele, according to the prosecution, recommended the payment of GH¢3.330,568.53 ($1.948,626.68) and therefore was required to open his defence to explain what the prosecution was insisting on – that there was no work done.
By William Yaw Owusu
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