An Accra High Court today, Friday, February 23, 2018, sentenced the former National Coordinator of the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency [GYEEDA], Abuga Pele, and the Chief Executive Officer of Goodwill International Group, Philip Assibit, to a combined jail-term of eighteen years on various counts, including willfully causing financial loss to the state.
Originally, the two were handed jail terms of ten (10) and sixteen (16) respectively.
But per the breakdown, Abuga Pele, who was handed a four and six-year sentence on different counts, will have his sentence running concurrently, meaning he will serve six years behind bars.
Assibit on the other hand, got a sentence of twelve and four years on different counts, but the two will run concurrently, which means he will also serve a jail term of twelve years.
The court also ordered the state to recover all assets and money belonging to the state from the convicts.
The court gave the defense lawyers and accused persons an opportunity to negotiate payment of the monies embezzled.
This led to the case being delayed for close to ten minutes, after which they asked the judge to use her discretion to make a decision.
The prosecution also drew the attention of the court to the fact that the law allows asset recovery alongside jail sentences.
Delivering her judgment, Justice Efia Serwaa Botwe said the prosecution succeeded in proving their case by producing enough evidence.
She also added that the defense and the accused person, on whom a lot burden of proof was laid, failed to prove their innocence in the matter.
She also said the canker of stealing in office must be dealt with.
Abuga Pele and Philip Akpeena Assibit, stood trial for committing acts that led to the loss of GH¢4.1 million to the state.
Assibit pleaded not guilty to six counts of defrauding by false pretence and six counts of dishonestly causing loss to public property, while Pele also pleaded not guilty to five counts of willfully causing financial loss to the state, abetment of crime and intentionally misapplying public property.
The prosecution claimed that Pele, who was the National Coordinator of the agency when it was known as National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), entered into a contract with Assibit to engage in activities which did not inure to the benefit of the state.
The facts of the case, per the prosecution, are that in 2010, Pele entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the GIG, represented by Assibit, without any “recourse to the then sector Minister of Youth and Sports, Akua Sena Dansua, or the Attorney General’’.
Between May 2011 and May 2012, the prosecution said, Assibit made a number of payment claims for consultancy services ranging from “the provision of exit programmes for the NYEP to the provision of financial engineering services’’.
Assibit, the prosecution said, claimed his services led to the NYEP securing a World Bank facility of $65 million and also helped the agency to recruit 250 youth to support the implementation of what was known as the Youth Enterprises Development Programme.
The prosecution added that in August 2012, investigations revealed that Assibit was paid an additional “GH¢835,000 under the guise of what was referred to as tracer studies for the World Bank.”
Abuga Pele, a former Member of Parliament for Chiana-Paga in the Upper East Region, had always stated that he was only used as scapegoat by the previous NDC government, whiles the real culprits were made to walk free.