Three former appointees of the erstwhile John Mahama administration have been sentenced to a cumulative 16 years in prison for various offences. The three, Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, former Board Chairman of the National Communication Authority (NCA), William Tetteh Tevie, former Director-General of the NCA, and Alhaji Salifu Mimina Osman, a former Deputy National Security Coordinator and a businessman, were sentenced yesterday by an Accra Commercial High Court presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour. Mr Baffoe-Bonnie was sentenced to six years in prison with the other two sentenced to five years each.
They were found guilty on the charges of conspiracy to willfully causing financial loss to the state, contravention of the Public Procurement Act and intentionally misapplying public property.
Two others who charged with the three, Derrick Oppong, a businessman, and Nana Owusu Ensaw were acquitted and discharged.
All five accused persons had been on trial in the case of “The Republic versus Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie and four others” since December 2017 when the case was first filed by the state at the High Court.
The state, in all, called six prosecution witnesses. They are the Director of Legal Administration, Abena Awarkoa Asafo Adjei; Dr Isaac Yaw Ani, Deputy Director General in charge of Management and Operations; and Henry Kanor, Deputy Director General in charge of Technical Operations, all at the NCA.
Others are Colonel Michael Kwadwo Poku, Director of Operations, National Security; Deputy National Security Coordinator, Duncan Opare; and Detective Chief Inspector Michael Nkrumah, an investigator of the case.
When they took turns to open their defence, all the accused persons testified on their own and none called any defence witnesses in support of their cases.
The presiding judge, in his judgement, indicated that the state had established a strong case of causing financial loss to the state against the accused persons. The accused persons, the court said, were in a conspiratorial drill to cause financial loss to the state. The first accused, who essentially was the architect of the entire deal, used his public office for private benefit to the tune of $200,000.00. The court found Mr Baffoe-Bonnie guilty on eight counts. Mr Tetteh Tevie was found guilty on five counts, while Dr Owusu Ensaw was not mentioned at all in the judgement because he had already been acquitted and discharged by the Court of Appeal on the March 25 2020.
Alhaji Salifu Mimina Osman was found guilty on five counts while Derek Oppong was also acquitted and discharged forthwith.
Counsel for the accused persons, Godwin Tamakloe, pleaded for non-custodial sentence for reasons including ill health, of especially Matthew Tetteh Tevie, but was rejected.
Some leaders of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), including the party’s flagbearer, former President John Dramani Mahama, and National Communications Officer, Sammy Gyamfi, had challenged the Akufo-Addo government to ‘jail’ former appointees if they had been corrupt while in office. The five NCA accused persons were part of over 21 appointees of the former administration who are facing various charges in different court.
Dumelovo guilty of contempt
In a related development, the Auditor-General, Daniel Yaw Domelevo, was yesterday found guilty of contempt for failing to respond to a suit filed by the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo, challenging a $1m surcharge brought against him.
The court said the reason given by Mr Domelevo for his inability to respond was “untenable and an afterthought.” Mr Domelevo had said he was busy finishing up an audit report for Parliament, hence his failure to respond to the suit.
The presiding judge, Justice Botwe, in her ruling, said due to the important role the Auditor-General plays, she would opt to caution and discharge him rather than sentence him.
The Senior Minister and four other officials from the Ministry of Finance had sued Mr Domelevo to clear their names in relation to what was said to be breaches of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) that resulted in their payment of US$1 million to a private UK firm, Kroll and Associates.
Mr Osafo-Maafo had said he was resorting to the courts because “the evidence available shows clearly that the Auditor-General erred in law and professional procedures in the exercise of his powers regarding his audit on payments to Kroll and Associates Limited.”