Court Throws Out Ex-SSNIT Boss

Ernest Thompson

An attempt by former Director-General of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Ernest Thompson, to avoid being tried for allegedly causing financial loss to the state has hit a snag.

The
case is currently at pre-trial stage and even before full
trial commences, Mr. Thompson and two other accused persons in the case filed
separate applications before the court to strike out charges against them or in
the alternative make an order directed at the Attorney General’s Department to
provide them with details of the charges against them.

However,
the court, presided over by Justice Henry Kwofie, dismissed the application and
therefore the 29 charges, including causing financial loss to the state, still
hold.

An
Accra High Court dismissed applications filed by lawyers for the former
Director-General of SSNIT and two other accused persons on trial before it.

Apart
from Mr. Thompson, John Hagan Mensah, Information Technology Infrastructure
Manager of SSNIT and private business woman Juliet Hassana Krama, CEO of
Perfect Business Solutions (PBS) Limited, both filed separate motions asking the
court to drop the charges against them.

Defence Argument

The
separate motions were moved on March 22, 2019 and the lawyers argued that the
charges against their clients were unconstitutional as they breached Articles
19(2)(d) and (11) of the Constitution.

They
also claimed the charges did not contain detailed particulars as required by
section 112(1) of Act 30.

State Rebuttal

The
prosecution, led by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Yvonne
Attakora-Obuobisa, opposed the motions and argued that the lawyers were
re-arguing issues that had already been determined by the Supreme Court in
respect of other cases.

Court Decision

In
his ruling, Justice Kwofie of the Court of Appeal, sitting as additional High
Court judge, dismissed the applications, saying the issues raised by the
accused persons have already been determined by the Court of Appeal and Supreme
Court.

He
held that the charges levelled against the accused persons contained
particulars necessary to give the applicants reasonable information as to the
nature of the charges preferred against them.

The
court also ruled that to accede to the request of the lawyers would amount to
compelling the prosecution to provide evidence in the charge sheet.

Key Actors

Mr.
Thompson and three former management members of SSNIT and a private
businesswoman have been accused of causing financial loss to the state in the
award of the controversial and failed $72 million IT project – Operational
Business Suite (OBS).

Caleb
Kwaku Afaglo, General Manager of Management Information Systems at SSNIT and
Peter Hayibor, General Counsel of SSNIT, are the other accused persons.

They
have been accused of inflating the contract sum of the OBS from $34,011,914.21
to $66,783,148.08 through what are termed variously as ‘change orders’ and
‘variations.’

The
five accused persons are facing a total of 29 charges, including conspiracy to
commit crime, causing financial loss to the state, defrauding by false
pretenses, contravention of the Public Procurement Authority Act, as well as
possession and authoring of forged documents.

Disclosure

The state has so far filed a total of 232 documents, as well as flash drives, which it intends to rely on for the trial.

By Gibril Abdul Razak



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