Three former appointees of ex-President John Dramani Mahama at the National Communications Authority (NCA) were yesterday sentenced to various terms of imprisonment by the High Court in Accra.
Former NCA Director-General William Tetteh Tevie, ex-NCA Board Chairman Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie and a former Deputy Security Coordinator of the Authority, Salifu Mimina Osman were slapped with a combined jail-term of 16 years for causing financial lost to the state to the tune of $4 million.
They were found guilty for their “clandestine” purchase of cybersecurity equipment worth over $4 million.
Former NCA Director-General William Tevie and Salifu Osman were each given five-year-jail term with Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie receiving six years.
The trial judge, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour found the three guilty but acquitted and discharged one other accused and a businessman, Derrick Oppong.
Justice Baffour noted in his judgement that prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the three convicted persons conspired and caused financial loss to the state.
He said evidence showed that the transaction did not have the approval of the NCA’s board, and a loss was occasioned to the state.
Accordingly, the trial Judge, Justice Kyei Baffour ordered the Attorney-General to seize assets of the convicts estimated to be worth $3 million.
William Tevie and Alhaji Osman were found guilty on the charges of conspiracy to wilfully causing financial loss to the state, contravention of the Public Procurement Act, and intentionally misapplying public property.
However, they were acquitted and discharged on charges of stealing, conspiracy to steal and using public office for personal benefits.
Another accused person, Nana Owusu Ensaw was acquitted and discharged by the court of appeal before yesterday’s judgment.
The facts presented by the Attorney-General indicated that Baffoe-Bonnie, William Tevie, Ensaw and Osman were allegedly aided by Oppong to engage in the criminal act.
According to the facts, the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration led by former President Mahama had contracted an Israeli company, NSO Group Technology Limited, to supply a piece of eavesdropping equipment at a cost of $6 million.
The equipment was to enable the authority to monitor conversations of persons suspected to be engaged in terror activities.
A local agent, Infraloks Development Limited, allegedly charged $2 million to facilitate the transaction, bringing the total sum to $8 million.
The facts explained that the National Security did not have the money to fund the transaction and for that reason, the NCA, which had supervisory jurisdiction over the use of such equipment, was asked to fund the project.
It was noted that $4 million was withdrawn from the NCA’s account, while $1 million out of the withdrawn amount was deposited into the account of the Israeli company.
The Attorney-General explained that the remaining $3 million was lodged in the account of Oppong, who acted as a representative of the local agents, Infraloks Development Ltd.
The state closed its case against the accused persons on the 18th of April 2019, following which they chose to exercise their rights under section 173 of the Criminal and Other Offences Procedure Act (Act 30) to file ‘Submissions of No Case.’
The prosecution in making its case called six witnesses, namely: Abena Asarfo Adjei, Director of Legal Affairs at NCA; Dr. Isaac Yaw Ani, Deputy Director-General in-charge of management and Operations; Colonel Michael Kwadwo Poku, Director of Operations at National Security Secretariat; Duncan Opare, Deputy National Security Coordinator and Detective Chief Inspector Michael Nkrumah, the investigator of the case.
The accused persons opened their defence and denied all the charges levelled against them, insisting that the equipment was purchased for the National Cyber Security Centre (NSCS) as requested.
They also denied the charge of benefitting from the purchase of the equipment.
The accused led by their respective counsel opened their defence but failed to call any defence witnesses.
First corruption case
This is the first corruption case that was filed by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government when it assumed power in 2017.
Prosecution led by the state from January 16, 2018, called six witnesses to make a case against the accused persons namely, Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, William Tetteh Tevie, former Director-General of the NCA; Nana Owusu Ensaw, a former board member; Salifu Mimina Osman, a former Deputy National Security Coordinator and George Derrick Oppong.
The accused earlier filed a submission of no case but the court held that they had a case to answer and directed that they opened their defence.