Abuga Pele Former Minister of Youth and Sports, Clement Kofi Humado, yesterday said the former National Coordinator of the National Youth
Employment Programme (NYEP), Abuga Pele, should be held responsible for any financial loss caused to the state.
He said some of the memos and invoices submitted by the National
Coordinator of the NYEP – now Ghana Youth Employment and
Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) – to request for
release and payment of huge sums of money for supposed consultancy
service turned out to be deceptive, and he (Humado) could therefore not be held responsible for Abuga Pele's wrongdoing.
'I can't be held responsible for a claim which is deceptive and later
turned out to be false. I based my judgement on the credibility of
Abuga Pele. The deliverables he claimed were done. I do not know for
a fact what he had done,' he told an Accra Financial Court presided over by Justice Afia Asare Botwe.
Mr. Humado was concluding his cross-examination yesterday at the
ongoing trial of Philip Akpeena Assibit, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of
GIG and the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) for Chiana-Paga,
Abuga Pele, in what has become the 'GYEEDA Scandal.'
The $522,882 Payment Concluding his cross-examination
led by Carl Adongo, counsel for Abuga Pele, Mr. Humado, who is
also the immediate past Minister of Agriculture and MP for Anlo, said
that he was only two months in office when the National Coordinator
raised the memo requesting for payment of a whopping $522,882 for consultancy services rendered by the Management Development and Productivity Institute/Goodwill International Group (MDPI/GIG) consortium.
He admitted approving the $522,882 payment but said the
approval was supposed to pass through what he called the ministry's due diligence process, starting from the Chief Director then the Internal Auditor.
Asked why he approved the $522,882, Mr. Humado told the court that there was a memo from Abuga Pele justifying work done and that persuaded him to make the approval saying, 'I approved it because of the claims made by the National Coordinator; not that I knew the deliverables had been done. I was barely two months in office. As a colleague MP, I believed that he was doing the right thing.'
Salary Approval Mr. Humado, who is the 4th Prosecution Witness (PW), said that as
minister, he had oversight responsibility over four agencies, including
NYEP/GYEEDA, but insisted that he did not approve their salaries, rather they had developed a payment plan to take care of all expenses.
'I did not approve GYEEDA monthly salaries. I asked them to submit monthly payment plans, and salaries were included,' he told the court.
He said it was the National Coordinator who approved salaries for
GYEEDA because the agency was almost autonomous saying,
'approval for payment plan does not mean that specific payments can be done.'
Crossfire When counsel asked him why he claimed GYEEDA was autonomous
but approved its payments, Mr. Humado said inflows were outside
the ministry's account and he could only monitor with the aid of the payment plan.
Counsel again put it to him that the $522,882 was not on the payment
plan but went ahead to approve the payment, but the witness insisted
that the approval was made to allow due diligence to commence before the payment.
Mr. Humado admitted that it was his Chief Director who had given a
working instruction that the amount be paid into MDPI account and
added the funds were from the NYEP but the memo had to be submitted to the ministry for approval.
According to him, Abuga Pele did not comply with the ministry's directive not to authorize payments exceeding GH¢20,000 saying, 'Initially, there were no problems but later at EOCO, they said there were problems with all the payments authorized by the National Coordinator.'
Court's Question When the judge asked witness if it was his evidence that the NYEP Coordinator was not supposed to spend beyond the threshold of GH¢20,000 as directed by the ministry, he said that was the case and added that Abuga Pele crossed the threshold.
When asked again what he did as minister after his directive was
breached, the witness said whilst he was minister, the issue of overspending by Abuga Pele never came to his notice.
Charges The Chiana-Paga MP is facing six counts of wilfully causing financial
loss to the state under Section 179A (3) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), to the tune of GH¢3,330,568.53; two counts of abetment under Sections 20(1) and 131(1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) and one count of intentionally misapplying public property, contrary to Section 1(2) of the Public Property Protection Act, 1977 (SMCD 140).
Mr. Assibit, who is the first accused person, is also facing six counts of defrauding the state of an amount equivalent to $1,948,626.68
by false pretences, contrary to Section 131(1) of the Criminal and Offences Act 1960 (Act 29) and five counts of dishonestly causing loss to public property contrary to Section 2(1) of the Public Property Protection Act, 1977 (SMCD 1).
BY William Yaw Owusu