The Financial Division of the High Court has ordered former head of the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), Abuga Pele and Philip Assibit, a private businessman to open their defence on July 13, for causing financial loss of GHC 4.1 million to the state.
Lawyers for the two had filed a submission of no case praying the court to free them but the trial judge, Mrs. Justice Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe, held a different view on the grounds that the prosecution had established a prima face case against them.
The two kept their composure and left the courtroom in the company of their lawyers Carl Adongo and Raymond Bagnabu.
Mr. Pele was alleged to have recommended payment of the said amount to Assibit, with the explanation Assibit had secured a $65 million facility from the World Bank for a Youth Enterprise Development Programme (YEDP), trained 250 youth as well as conducted tracer studies for an exit strategy for the said youth.
But the court held that the prosecution had led evidence to prove the claims were false and for that reason, it was important for the accused persons to open their defence to discredit the evidence led by the prosecution.
The defence team had also argued Assibit never held himself as a consultant but the trial judge read documents and memos to prove he Assibit) had indeed held himself as such at all material times, and had even signed documents to that effect.
These and other evidence led by the prosecution, according to the court, had shifted the burden on the accused persons to prove their innocence.
The facts of the case were that in 2009, Pele, on assumption of office as the National Coordinator of then NYEP, entered into a contract with Assibit, a representative of Goodwill International Group (GIG).
Under the terms of the agreement, the NYEP was described as the ‘host’, while the GIG was tagged as the ‘strategic partner’.
According to the prosecution, the parties agreed to combine their labour, properties and skills for the purpose of engaging in resource mobilisation, investor sourcing, management consulting, capacity building, career development, training services, among other jobs.
Per the agreement, the GIG was responsible for resource mobilization and undertook to provide preliminary funds for the development of the programme, while the parties agreed to equally share the profits that would accrue out of the agreement.
“Meanwhile, there is nothing on record in terms of business proposals or documents forming the basis of engaging the GIG as a strategic partner,” the prosecution stated.