General News of Wednesday, 11 December 2019
Embattled former Board Chairman of the National Communications Authority (NCA), Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, has distanced himself from the controversial contract that was signed between the NCA and Infralock Development Limited (IDL) for the purchase of the pergasus system for cyber security and surveillance in Ghana, that has resulted in the lose of about four million dollars ($4 Million) to the State.
Mr. Baffoe-Bonnie made the disclosure in Court today the 10th of December 2019 when he continued his evidence in chief which has been on hold for the last six (6) months since he first opened his defence in July 2019, due to multiple applications in and out of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
Lawyer for the first accused person Abu Juan, while leading his client to give his evidence-in-chief asked as follows, “Prosecution Witness (PW) One (1)” in her testimony suggested that you purposely hid the contract document between the IDL and NCA from the Authority?
Mr. Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie in his answer to the question stated, “This was a contract between IDL and NCA, as Board Chairman, I did not even know the details. I had no idea about the content of the contract between IDL and NCA”.
Previous Disclosure on IDL/NCA Contract
In the testimony of the first Prosecution Witness of the State, the Director of Legal Administration of the NCA, Mrs. Abena Asafo-Adjei, on the 23rd of January 2018, she indicated to the Court that the IDL/NCA Contract was only signed by the second accused person and the former Director General of the NCA William Tetteh Tevie, without being witnessed by the Director of Legal Administration as is the standard practice at the NCA as an institution.
Nomination of Re-Seller
Another bone of contention was the issue about who brought in the 5th accused person, the private businessman, George Derek Oppong, of IDL. It is the contention of the State that Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie and the other accused person brought him in as a re-seller of the Pergasus System in order to defraud the State. However in an answer to the question posed by his lawyer as to who recruited or nominated the 5th accused person, Mr. Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie said he played no role in same but it was NSO, the Israeli security company which deals in the Pergasus System, that nominated him as their agent or reseller.
Adjournment of Sitting
After about two and half hours of leading his client to give his evidence-in-chief, lawyer Abu Juan, asked for an adjournment. Justice Eric Kyei Baffour in a short ruling to grant the request said “I reluctantly accede to the prayer of counsel for the 1st accused person for an adjournment. Case is adjourned to the 19th of December 2019” .
The State closed its case against the accused persons on the 18th of April 2019, following which, the accused persons chose to exercise their rights under section 173 of Criminal and Other Offences Procedure Act (Act 30) to file “Submissions of No Case”. In all, the State called six (6) prosecution witnesses in her bit to establish its case against the accused persons.
The prosecution witnesses were, Director of Legal Administration at the National Communications Authority (NCA), Abena Awarkoa Asafo Adjei, Dr. Isaac Yaw Ani, Deputy Director General in charge of Management and Operations at the National Communications Authority (NCA), Henry Kanor, Deputy Director General in charge of Technical Operations at the National Communications Authority (NCA), Colonel Michael Kwadwo Poku, Director of Operations at the National Security, Deputy National Security Coordinator, Duncan Opare, and Detective Chief Inspector Michael Nkrumah, Investigator of the case.
According to the facts of the case, as presented by the A-G, Baffoe-Bonnie, Tevie, Ensaw and Osman were allegedly aided by Oppong to engage in the criminal act. It said the previous administration had contracted an Israeli company, NSO Group Technology Limited, to supply a listening equipment at a cost of $6 million to enable the authorities to monitor conversations of persons suspected to be engaged in terror activities. A local agent, Infraloks Development Limited, charged $2 million to facilitate the transaction, bringing the total sum to $8 million. The facts explained that the National Security did not have the money to fund the transaction and for that reason the NCA, which had supervisory jurisdiction over the use of such equipment, was asked to fund the project.
It said $4 million was withdrawn from the NCA’s account, while $1 million out of the withdrawn amount was deposited into the account of the Israeli company. The A-G explained that the remaining $3 million was lodged in the account of Oppong, who acted as a representative of the local agents, Infraloks Development Ltd.