Ex-BNI Officer To Testify In NSS Trial

Alhaji Alhassan Imoro

State prosecutors are set to present a second prosecution witness in the trial of Alhaji Alhassan Imoro, the former Executive Director of the National Service Secretariat (NSS) and 34 others implicated in the massive fraud that hit the Scheme.

According to Marina Appiah Opare, a Principal State Attorney at the Attorney-General’s Department, the witness, who is a former officer at the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and currently in the Volta Region, would be the next witness in the dock.

This was after Dr. Michael Kpessah Whyte, the immediate-past Executive Director of the Scheme, had completed his final cross-examination by the lawyer of two of the accused persons-Ebenezer Anin Dankwah and Dominic Pupula Maabesog, Director National Voluntary Service Programme and the Upper East Regional of the Scheme respectively.

Dr. Kpessah has over the past five months been answering questions on the scope of work of the accused persons and what roles they played in the scandal.

In the final day of cross-examination yesterday, the witness said the role of Ebenezer as the Director for Voluntary Service Programme was changed and reassigned to take up supervisory role at the NSS farms at Nungua in Accra.

Dr. Kpessah, among others, indicated that he cannot determine whether the change of duty was communicated to Ebenezer formally in writing.

The witness said he does not also know how volunteers were recruited into the Scheme because that aspect of the Scheme was suspended soon after he took over the post.

Hearing continues on February 7, 2017.

The charges preferred against the 35 persons range from conspiracy to stealing.

Alhaji Imoro is facing additional charge of “giving bribe to influence public officer contrary to Section 25 (2) of the Criminal Offences Act, Act 29 of 1960.

The prosecution alleged 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 between August 1 and September 26, 2014, given GH¢25,000 and GH¢15,000 respectively to one Charles Kipo, a BNI investigator as value consideration.

Alhaji Imoro has been granted bail in the sum of GH¢90 million with three sureties, all to be justified with properties worth GH¢1 million.

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 personnel.

The Bureau discovered malfeasance in the postings and payment of allowances to service personnel.

Investigations established that between September 2013 and August 2014, the pay roll of the NSS was bloated by 31,516 names for both the National Service Postings and the National Voluntary Service Recruitment.

During that service year, National Service personnel were paid GH¢243 and GH¢ 350 per month from January to August 2014.

The prosecution alleged that an elaborate plot hatched by Alhaji Imoro, the Executive Director, 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.

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.

Aku Mensah, who was supposed 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.

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.

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 on the monies to be paid to him every month.

The number of names, the prosecutor said, Alhaji Imoro gave to each regional director depended on the loyalty and trust he had for him or her.

The Regional Directors have all admitted their involvement and have promised to refund their share of the proceeds, except Alhaji lmoro, who has repeatedly denied any involvement.

“All the Regional and District Directors as well as the senior officials at the NSS have all made part payments in satisfaction of their liabilities. The Executive Director has however not made any payment at all though he has been furnished with his liability.”

The prosecution indicated that the state as a result lost an amount of GH¢107,897,018.36.

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By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson