GYEEDA Trial Begins

Abuga Pele at the court premises (14)The case of “abetment of crime and willfully causing financial loss to the State” against Mr. Abuga Pele, former National Co-ordinator of Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency (GYEEDA) assumed a full trial at the Financial Division (1) of the Fast Track High Court yesterday in Accra.

Also in the dock was Philip Akpeena Assibit, (1st Accused) a businessman, who was paid various sums of money amounting to GH¢4.1 million under the pretext that he had conducted financial engineering for the approval of $65 million from the World Bank to support the programme (GYEEDA), but prosecution said it was untrue.

He again claimed to have provided an Exit Plan and strategy for all NYEP modules, established a Youth Enterprise Development Project which he said to have used in recruiting and training 250 youth to support the implementation of what he referred to as the World Bank funded Youth Enterprise Development Programme (YEDP) which formed the basis for Mr. Pele to justify, recommend and approve the afore-stated amount without recourse to the then Minister of Youth and Sports Madam Akua Sena Dansua or the Attorney-General.

Mrs. Evelyn Keelson, Principal State Attorney withdrew the original charge sheet and replaced with a new one due to some technical anomalies.

The substituted charge sheet still contained all the 19 charges read on their first appearance at the court on Friday, January 24 whilst the facts also remained the same – nothing was changed.

The two are standing trial for the Commission of offences ranging from “defrauding by false pretence and dishonestly causing loss to Public Proper try” on the part of the first accused (Assibit) to “abetment of crime, defrauding by false pretence, intentionally misapplying Public Property and willfully causing financial loss to the state” as preferred against Hon. Abuga Pele.

The Court room was filled to capacity with some people from the Chiana-Paga Constituency in the Upper East Region where the former National Co-ordinator is presently the Member of Parliament (MP).

They pleaded not guilty to all the charges preferred against them. Abuga Pele was, however, allowed to go on his self-cognisance bail whilst Stephen Assibit was “detained” by the court. – No reason was assigned for his detention.

At the trial, the first prosecution witness, Mr. Nuru Hamidan who is currently the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of Asokore-Mampong in the Ashanti Region and former Deputy Co-ordinator of the National Youth Employment Porgramme (NYEP) in-charge of Operations and later in-charge of Administration said that his ‘first encounter with Philip Assibit was when the (Assibit) came to the National Head office with his team to meet Mr. Pele.

He said that the team was introduced to the staff as people coming from the Goodwill International Group (GIG) headed by Assibit, and Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI) Mr. Hamidan said they were told at the meeting that Philip Assibit and his team could help NYEP expand the youth employment modules that could create about One Million jobs in the Information Communication Technology (ICT), Agriculture and Housing.

“My Lord after the meeting we were like “wow” this is laudable” the witness said, but the presiding Judge, Mrs. Justice Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe told him (witness) to substitute the word “wow” with an appropriate English word.

According to Mr. Hamidan, since the GYEEDA concept among others aimed at creating jobs for the youth, then it was a good thing to have a group of people willing to support the establishment in realizing its goals.

“That is how I got to know Philip Assibit,” he said.

When asked by the prosecutor, Mrs. Keelson to give a brief overview of what HYEP was all about, the witness said that the Concept was established in about 2005 after the National Security had conducted a study and found that youth unemployment was a major issue as the youth all over Ghana called into radio stations and complained about job.

He said that the National Security thought it prudent to provide a platform for the youth who would be able to engage themselves meaningfully and contribute towards the development of the Country.

Mr. Hamidan said that several meetings were organised with the relevant institutions such as the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Education (MOE) and other State agencies for the development of the Modules and their implementation.

He said that the programme (NYEP) was finally launched with its traditional modules namely; Community Protection Assistants with the Ghana Police Service (GPS), Community Teaching Assistants with the Ministry of Education (MOE), Community Health Workers with the Ministry of Health (MOH) as well as Paid Internship Modules with State and other organisations.

He said that in 2009, the Management of GYEEDA realized that these internship modules created a lot of pressure on the “State purse” because it was difficult to continue paying beneficiaries on monthly basis.

“Management decided that we should maintain those modules but place more emphasis on entrepreneurship modules that will help train the people to work for themselves to earn a living and as well recruit more youth to also work for them, with the understanding that government alone could not provide jobs for everyone in the country.

On how service providers were engaged by the programme, the witness said the NYEP received proposals on daily basis from service providers who would explain how to create jobs under Public-Private-Partnership (PPP).

He said that these proposals would in turn be addressed to the Minister of Youth and Sports for study since he superintended over NYEP or GYEEDA.

The Sector Minister and his team would, after a careful study and evaluation, minute on the proposal to the National Co-ordinator to also look and work out details on how the modules could be implemented.

Mr. Hamidan said that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was then signed at the Ministry for the engagement of the service providers whilst NYEP would be responsible for whatever was stated in the MOU ie, how the modules would be implemented together with the service providers.

He said that service providers were selected based on the overall consideration of one’s (Service Provider’s) ability to create job opportunities for the youth.

“My Lord, we target groups who qualify to join the modules, how the beneficiaries are selected, how they will be managed successfully during their two years engagement under the programme as well as how they exit; this is what we call the exit plan of programme”

“As indicated earlier my Lord, before any module of NYEP is started, all these issues are looked at.

We cannot engage somebody on the progrqamme when we are not aware of how the person will be exiting,” he said.

The witness said that to the best of his memory, NYEP in 2009 undertook an exit of all the beneficiaries and it was publicised in the media.

He said that about 12,000 beneficiaries were exiting at the time as such NYEP sat with the Ministry of Education and agreed on an exit plan where some of them (beneficiaries) were admitted into the Colleges of Education and other institutions whilst those who were not absorbed, were allowed to join any of the entrepreneurship modules.

Mr. Hamidan told the court that there was no exit plan as at the time he left NYEP, but did not give the year.

He said that he came into contact with Philip Assibit (1st Accused) shortly, on the day they came to the NYEP office and during introduction, they said they could create one million jobs in ICT, Agriculture and Housing (Construction).

He said that Philip Assibit claimed that GIG and MDPI would fund the project and submitted proposal to that effect.

He said that an MOU was signed between NYEP on one hand, and GIG and West Capital which, he, Hamidan, witnessed it.

He said that as a witness, he suggested to Mr. Pele that a Parliamentary approval be sought since West Capital was to fund the project.

He said that they approached President John Dramani Mahama in 2010 when he was the Vice President and informed him of the impending brilliant project which could create jobs for the youth.

The witness said that President Mahama advised them to consult the World Bank Country Director for discussion regarding how funds could be secured for its implementation.

He said that he was not deeply involved in the World Bank consultations as directed by the Vice President at the time, and could not tell what transpired later since there was a Desk Officer on that schedule.

The case was adjourned to today for continuation. By Castro Zangina-Tong

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