'NSS stole funds: we want to pay back'
The case involving the interdicted NSS officials took a dramatic turn last Friday when 25 out of the 35 accused persons pleaded with the court to allow them to refund their alleged misappropriated money.
The move started with Mr Egbert Fabille Jnr who told the court that his clients—Ali Ahmd Awumbilla, Ebenezer Edzi and Seth Q. Quartey—were willing to refund the money.
That opened the floodgate when the presiding judge, Mrs Justice Georgina Mensah-Datsah, approved the move, saying: “For those in position to pay, the door is open now. We won’t come back to this when we have crossed the bridge.”
The new twist means the state could recover close to GHc27 million out of the GHc107 million the accused persons were alleged to have stolen or misappropriated.
What Section 35 of Courts Act says
As if on cue, counsel for the 22 other accused persons got on their feet to make similar pleas for restitution in compliance with Section 35 of the Courts Act 1993 (Act 459).
Section 35 allows accused persons charged with an offence before the High Court or a Regional Tribunal, the commission of which has caused economic loss, harm or damage to the State or any State agency, to inform the prosecutor whether he or she admits the offence and is willing to offer compensation or make restitution and reparation for the loss, harm or damage caused.
According to the Act, if the restitution is acceptable to the prosecution and the court, considers plea of guilty from the accused and convict the accused on his own plea, and in lieu of passing sentence on the accused, make an order for the accused to pay compensation or make restitution and reparation.
Interestingly, at the last sitting on May 27, 2015, 31 out of the 35 accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and were granted bail in various sums.
Four accused persons—Seth Nana Obugyei Asiedu, the former Greater Accra Regional Director of the NSS; Helena Bokoro, a secretary at the Northern Regional Secretariat; Solomon Kurug, Upper East Regional Accountant and Mutaro Usif, Secretary at the Tamale Metro Office — who were not in court during the last sitting, appeared in court and were granted bail in various sums and with sureties.
Earlier, Justice Mensah-Datsah warned that she would not tolerate absenteeism or lateness to the court.
“I will not tolerate all those excuses that they are on their way. If this was for visa, they would not be telling the embassy that they are on their way. If they are not here, it creates a whole lot of problems,” she added.
The case has been adjourned to July 3, 2015, at the instance of the prosecutor, a Chief State Attorney, Ms Penelope Marmattah, to allow for time for the prosecution to meet the accused persons.
Among the accused persons willing to pay the money are Michael Kombor, Nelson Ayeltiga, Sammy Ofori, Seth Nana Obugyei Asiedu, Gabriel Nyorke, Ali Ahmed Awumbila, Michael Totime, Ebenezer Edzi, Shaibu Termi Abiru, George Dassah Naa Winyelle and Dominic Dele.
The rest are John Kwame Ayew, Mohammed Abukari, Francis Himbuah, Aliyu Hussein, Alexander Agumey ,Cletu Kaba, Raphael Adu Agyapong, Theophilus Kwoffie, Dominic Popola Maabesog, Festus Obeng-Sefa, Emmanuel Asante and Helena Mensah.
The stolen funds
Aside from the charge of conspiracy, Alhaji Imoro faces four additional counts of stealing GH¢28.7 million and giving bribes totalling GH¢100,000 to one of the investigators in the case to thwart investigations.
Kombor faces one count of stealing GH¢540,000; Dankwah has been charged with one count of stealing GH¢350,000, while Alhassan faces one count of stealing GH¢559,000.
The following are the amounts allegedly stolen by some of the accused persons: Gloria, GH¢383,000; Ayeltiga, GH¢44,000; Ofori, GH¢210,500; Totimeh, GH¢771,919.08; Asiedu, GH¢18.3 million; Nyorke, GH¢922,788.27; Awumbila, GH¢315,183.54; Edzi, GH¢2.2 million; Agyepong, GH¢3.2 million; Abiru, GH¢612,794.
The rest are: Naawinyelle, GH¢335,716.26; Dele, GH¢189,152.40; Larbi-Siaw, GH¢577,000; Ayew, GH¢44,900; Himbuah, GH¢210,000; Senti, GH¢99,000; Kurug, GH¢184,602.67; Hussein, GH¢210,000; Agumeh, GH¢283,825.16; Quartey, GH¢4.4 million; Kaba, GH¢189,152; Adu-Agyepong, GH¢52,000; Kwoffie, Maabesog, GH¢173,852; Bati, GH¢210,000; Obeng-Sefa, GH¢63,575; Asante, GH¢200,000; Bokoro, GH¢51,739; Usif, GH¢18,869; Helena, GH¢52,000, and Freda, GH¢29,800.