Former Minister of Youth and sports, Clement Kofi Humado, has told a court that former coordinator of the national Youth employment Programme (NYEP), Abuga Pele, defied his directive not to sign any cheque beyond Gh¢20,000.
According to him, the Economic and Organised Crime Organisation (EOCO) had shown him documents that indicated that Abuga Pele paid about GH¢835,000 to Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI)/ Goodwill International Group (GIG) consortium for conducting a tracer study for the NyEP, even though he had instituted a financial regulatory mechanism to ensure that all payments were approved by the ministry under which NYEP operated.
Mr Humado, MP for Anlo in the Volta Region, made the claims as witness last Friday at the ongoing trial of Abuga Pele, who is the MP for Chiana-Paga in the Upper East Region and Phillip Akpeena Assibit, GIG’s Chief Executive Officer, at the Accra Financial Court presided over by Justice Afia Asare Botwe.
Abuga Pele and Assibit are on trial for the various roles they allegedly played, which the Attorney General’s Department said caused financial loss to the state.
The Chiana-Paga 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.
They have pleaded not guilty and are currently on bail.
Under cross-examination by Karl Adongo, counsel for Abuga Pele, the fourth Prosecution Witness (PW4) told the court that the second accused person (Abuga) authorised the payments without recourse to him.
Counsel (Mr Adongo): you requested Abuga Pele not to spend more than GH¢20,000.
Witness (Mr Humado): yes.
Counsel: During your tenure did he ever sign anything beyond GH¢20,000?
Witness: If payment means preparation of cheques and pay vouchers, then yes! He was supposed to bring all cheques to the ministry for due diligence to be done because he was in charge of the NyEP account.
When counsel suggested to him that there was no evidence that Abuga Pele paid for the Tracer Studies,Mr Humado who is also the immediate past Minister of Agriculture, insisted that it was EOCO who told him that it was paid for, saying, “I still stand by my position that EOCO had said the amount was paid.”
The witness said that even though he approved a memo by Abuga Pele on the tracer study, the NYEP Coordinator disobeyed the ministry’s financial regulation by not returning the memo to the Chief Director for due diligence to follow, saying, “to the best of my knowledge, I do not have evidence that he sent it to the Chief Director for approval.”
Earlier, Raymond Bagnabu, counsel for Assibit, had concluded the cross examination of Mr Humado where the Anlo MP insisted that he never saw the letter that was written from the ministry requesting Abuga Pele to include the tracer study in the payment plan for the ministry, saying, “if it was written on my behalf, it was just to add to the payment plan.”
“I only saw this letter when the exhibits were being put together. In any case, the letter indicated the conveyance of an intention by the National Coordinator and this does not constitute approval to pay.”
Assibit Vrs Humado
Before any payment was made, it had been approved by you. So there was due diligence in the payment of the $528,605 for the exit strategies done by Assibit.
Witness: If the request reached me, I will hand over to the Chief Director for due diligence to commence.
Counsel: If there were no invoices (requests) how would you know what to include in your payment plan?
Witness: When developing a budget you base it on estimates.
Counsel: The invoice should not have come before the payment.
Witness: The payment plan did not constitute an approval.
Counsel: Any expenditure area must be reflected in the payment plan first before invoices can be raised.
Witness: If the National Coordinator thinks after the payment plan had been approved he could go ahead to make the payment without coming back to the Chief Director for due diligence to be done, then it is up to him.
Mr Humado told the court that the ministry’s technical advisors told him that it was safer to pay the amount into MDPI account and he directed accordingly, but Abuga Pele decided to pay it into MDPI/GIG account, saying, “if the National Coordinator chose to include GIG in the payment that is his business.”
“I don’t sign any cheque at the NYEP; neither do I look at them. We only give our advice.
The pay voucher and preparation of the cheques are done at the NyEP level.”
Sitting continues on October 27.
In last Saturdays issue, we inadvertently published that Mr Humado is accused of willfully causing financial loss to the state. it should rather have read Abuga Pele. The error is deeply regretted.
Source: Daily Guide.