GYEEDA Trial Witness Grilled


Abuga Pele
A witness who persistently denied knowledge of pre-financing activities in the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) trial yesterday had hot exchanges with counsel for the accused persons.

Dr Shaibu Ahmed Gariba, former Director-General of Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI), testifying as the fifth prosecution witness (PW5), did not want to accept the fact that there was a pre-financing activity by Phillip Akpeena Assibit’s Goodwill International Group (GIG), even though a letter already in evidence showed clearly that he (witness) even endorsed it with his signature.

Request letter
The letter, written on May 10, 2011 and titled ‘Bank of Ghana Cheque Number 018931 from NYEP’, specifically directed the central bank to pay GH¢800,000 into an MDPI/GIG Oil and Project account.

In the said letter, the GIG and MDPI were said to have since 2009 been collaborating in the provision of services to the NYEP (now GYEEDA), then headed by MP for Chiana Paga, Abuga Pele, who is on trial alongside Assibit for causing financial loss to the state.

GH¢10 million
The GIG, according to the letter, had a contract with the NYEP to prefund and deliver oil and gas training for NYEP beneficiaries and as a result, had prefunded activities and sourced institutional support from the MDPI and effectually delivered three modules of the oil and gas training.

The letter, jointly endorsed by the witness as Director-General of MDPI and Assibit as Management Consultant, stated that the cheque of nearly GH¢10 million represented a part-payment for training fees of 5,000 beneficiaries of the NYEP. The said amount was the accumulated figure for over two years’ service and prefunding activities of NYEP by the GIG.

 
Abuga Pele faces witness
During cross-examination by Abuga Pele’s counsel, Karl Adongo, Dr Gariba told the court that he could not attest to the fact that GIG pre-financed the oil and gas training and said he was certain that ‘MDPI didn’t pre-finance anything.’

The witness admitted that in all the agreements signed between MDPI and GIG, none of the contracts had anything to do with Abuga Pele directly but insisted that the NDC MP was involved indirectly because the NYEP sent participants for the oil and gas training.

‘In the oil and gas training, we did some work with GIG but we had no direct dealings with A2 (Abuga Pele). We didn’t do any consultancy service with A2. They only sent people to be trained under the oil and gas programme,’ the witness told the court presided over by Justice Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe.

Assibit vrs Witness
Concluding the cross-examination of the witness, Raymond Bagnabu, representing Assibit, had alleged that the witness used a surveyor called Alhaji Sey to collect money from A1 (Assibit) for his private building project at Trade Fair Site, La; but Dr Gariba denied.

He said the agreement between GIG and MDPI on the Youth Enterprise Development (YED) project was dependent on the arrival of the $65 million from the World Bank; but when given a copy of the agreement and pushed by counsel to state which part of the agreement said so, the witness said, ‘It is not stated here categorically.’

He insisted that he did not know that GIG used MDPI personnel, including Jamal and Karim, in their consultancy services, adding that he heard about an office called Project Resource Mobilisation but never visited the said office.

Dr Gariba admitted travelling in the vehicle of GIG for field work but said it was in respect of the oil and gas project they were executing with Assibit’s outfit and not the YED project.

He said at the launch of Exit Plans for the NYEP at Alisa Hotel, he delivered a speech as an MDPI official but it was the media that misrepresented him. This was after counsel had said the witness praised the collaboration between his outfit and the GIG on the YED project.

Long adjournment
The case was subsequently adjourned to February 23 next year to enable the prosecution to bring its next set of witnesses.

So far, Nuru Hamidan, former NYEP Deputy National Coordinator in charge of Operations and now MCE for Asokore Mampong; Gladys Ghartey, current Head of United Nations Systems at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning; Mohammed Pelpuo, Head of the Business Development Unit at NYEP, as well as Clement Kofi Humado, former Minister of Youth and Sports, have since testified and gone through cross-examination.

Accused persons
Abuga Pele and Philip Akpeena Assibit are standing trial for the various roles they played, 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. They were present in court yesterday.

By William Yaw Owusu
 

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