I Don’t Want To Stand Trial -Ex SSNIT Boss

Ernest Thompson

A
former Director-General of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust
(SSNIT), Ernest Thompson, has filed an appeal against the decision of an Accra
High Court to dismiss his application seeking to avoid trial for allegedly
causing financial loss to the state.

Mr.
Thompson and two other accused persons in the case had 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.

The
court, presided over by Justice Henry Kwofie, on April 17, dismissed the
applications.

The
dismissal meant that all the 29 charges, including causing financial loss to
the state, still hold.

But
lawyers for Mr. Thompson have proceeded to the Court of Appeal to challenge the
decision of the High Court to dismiss the application.

The
lawyers have subsequently filed a stay of proceedings in the pre-trial pending
the determination of the appeal.

The
High Court, presided over by Justice Kwofie, has set May 21 to
rule on the application for stay of proceedings.

Earlier Applications

Apart
from Mr. Thompson, John Hagan Mensah, Information Technology Infrastructure
Manager of SSNIT and private businesswoman Juliet Hassana Krama, CEO of Perfect
Business Solutions (PBS) Limited, both filed separate motions praying 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 averred that the charges did not contain detailed particulars 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 had already been determined by the Supreme Court and Court of
Appeal.

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 and flash drives which it intends to rely on for the trial.

By Gibril Abdul Razak



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