State prosecution to amend charges against former SSNIT boss and four others

State prosecution has decided to amend the charges of former SSNIT boss Ernest Thompson and four others standing trial for causing financial loss to the state. 

The decision comes after a Supreme Court ruling directing state prosecution to amend the charges as the team did not have sufficient particulars to support the charges.

On Thursday, the Director of Public Prosecution Yvonne Attakorah Obuobisah assured the Accra High Court of the team’s readiness to work expeditiously.

She then prayed for a two-week adjournment to enable the team work on the new charges.

The Accra High Court judge Henry Anthony Kwofie agreed and subsequently adjourned the case to April 22, 2021.

All five persons were present when the case was called.

Supreme Court’s ruling

On Wednesday, March 17, 2021, the apex court dismissed an appeal against former SSNIT boss, Ernest Thompson and four others accused of causing financial loss to the state.

The five-member panel presided by Yaw Appau, in a unanimous decision said “the appeal does not meet the constitutional requirement and we find no merit for the appeal and it is hereby dismissed.”

The appeal application was brought before the apex court by the state prosecution.

The application was to make a ruling on a court of appeal decision for state prosecution to amend its charge sheet against the former SSNIT boss.

The former SSNIT boss wanted charges against him struck out on the basis that the prosecution failed to provide adequate particulars of the offences as required by law.

It was the case of Mr Thompson that the prosecution failed to provide sufficient particulars on the offences levelled against him as required under Article 19 (2) of the 1992 Constitution and Section 122 of the Criminal Offences (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30).

His lawyers argued that the particulars were so scanty that they did not afford their client any concrete information to enable him to mount his defence.

The prosecution, on the other hand, insisted that the particulars of the offences contain adequate information, and argues that the contention of Mr Thompson, when allowed to hold, will amount to prosecution providing evidence in the particulars of the offence.

But the apex court on Wednesday upheld the decision of the appeal court.

It said the charges preferred against the accused persons indeed did not meet the constitutional requirements.

The genesis of the problem

The former SSNIT boss Ernest Thompson and four others have been accused of causing a financial loss of more than $14.8 million in the SSNIT Operational Business Suite (OBS) project.

The four other accused are Mr John Hagan Mensah, a former Information Technology (IT) Manager at SSNIT; Ms Juliet Hassana Kramer, the Chief Executive Officer of Perfect Business Systems (PBS); Mr Caleb Kwaku Afaglo, a former Head of Management Information Systems (MIS) at SSNIT; and Mr Peter Hayibor, the lawyer for SSNIT.

The offences levelled against Mr Thompson and the other accused persons include wilfully causing financial loss to the state, conspiracy to commit a crime, defrauding by false pretence in contravention of the public procurement act and authoring of forged documents.

In June 2010, SSNIT initiated the $34 million OBS project to use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to revamp its operations to enable it to provide a state-of-the-art pension administration system in the country.

Per the facts, between September 2013 and September 2016 the five accused persons engaged in various illegalities that caused financial loss to the state in relation to the said project.

The contract sum, the prosecution said, also ballooned from $34 million to over $66 million, even though the OBS system failed to perform efficiently as the project contract had envisaged.

Other panel members include Justices Agnes M.A. Dordzie, Avril Lovelace-Johnson, Gertrude Torkonoo and Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu.

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