Philip Assibit and Abuga Pele
The Court of Appeal yesterday declined to order an Accra Financial Court trying Abuga Pele, NDC MP for Chiana Paga, and his co-accused, Philip Akpeena Assibit, in the infamous GYEEDA scandal to stay proceedings pending an appeal by the accused.
Mr Assibit, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Goodwill International Group (GIG), wanted a stay of proceedings to enable him appeal against the decision of the Financial Court presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare Botwe that he should open his defence in the GYEEDA case.
However, the lone judge at the Appellate Court, Justice Barbara F. Ackah Yensu, dismissed Mr Assibit’s application, saying, “the applicant has not established or shown exceptional circumstances for the grant of a stay of proceedings.”
As it is, Mr Assibit is expected to go back to the Financial Court and open his defence while at the same time his application seeking to quash the trial court’s order for him to open his defence will also go on concurrently at the Court of Appeal.
Mr Abuga Pele, on the other hand, did not file any application at the Court of Appeal and is said to be ready to open his defence because his lawyers have argued that he did not cause any financial loss to the state as NYEP National Coordinator.
When the case was called yesterday, Raymond Bagnabu, representing Assibit, moved his motion on notice and said the grounds of appeal raised “very serious grounds of law” and needed to be granted.
“If the order is not made, the trial would be running alongside the processes of the Appellate Court,” Mr Bagnabu added.
Opposing the application, Marina Appiah Opare, the Principal State Attorney representing the state, insisted that Assibit could not show any special circumstance for which the application could be granted.
“The trial judge had reasons for coming to the conclusions that a prima facie case has been made,” adding, “granting this application will cause undue delay to the trial.”
Abuga Pele who is the former National Coordinator of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), now GYEEDA, and Mr Assibit are standing trial for the various roles they played at GYEEDA, which the Attorney General’s Department said caused huge financial loss to the state.
The MP 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.
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 wilfully 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 another 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 wilfully causing financial loss to the state, all to the tune of GH¢3.305,568.53.
Prima Facie Case
On Friday, June 19, last year the Financial Court presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare Botwe ordered the MP and Assibit to open their defence after the court held that the prosecution had been able to establish a prima facie case against them.
The two had filed ‘submission of no case to answer’ applications separately but the court dismissed them and said they had a case to answer at the close of the prosecution’s case in April.
By William Yaw Owusu