Dr Isaac Yaw Ane, a Deputy Director General in Charge of Management and Operations, National Communication Authority (NCA), on Tuesday narrated to an Accra High Court how the NCA approved four million dollars to purchase cyber-security monitoring equipment.
Dr Ane, a second prosecution witness, led in evidence by Mrs Yvonne Atakorah Obuobisa, the Director for Public Prosecution (DPP), said he was a member of the Budget Committee of the NCA and he certified its 2015 and 2016 Budget.
According to him the NCA had three levels of financial approval adding that monies less than GH¢5,000.00 were for directors to approve, monies totalling GH¢100,000.00 were approved by the Director General of NCA and in cases where it was above GH¢100,000.00 then the Director General and the Board had to approve.
Dr Ane was testifying in the case of former senior officials of the NCA being held over a four million-dollar Cyber Security Surveillance Equipment, allegedly purchased for the National Security Secretariat without the approval of the Board.
The accused persons are Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, a former Board Chairman, NCA; William Tevie, a former Director General; Nana Owusu Ensaw, former Board Member of NCA, George Derrick Oppong, Director of Infralock Development Limited, Alhaji Salifu Mimina Osman, former Deputy National Security Coordinator.
The witness recounted how NCA dealt with industry support outside the Authority’s Budget noting that it often received requests from the Ministry of Communication to assist certain organisations.
He cited the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and the National Security Secretariat as institutions which had benefited from the NCA industrial support.
Dr Ane said in the case of the GBC, the Corporation’s request was sent to the then Director General and forwarded to the NCA Board for approval.
In the case of the National Security Secretariat, Dr Ane said he was in his office, in February 2016, when he had a call from the then Director General, Mr Tevie, that he should come to his office.
“When I got there the Board Chairman, Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, was with Tevie.
According to the witness, Baffoe-Bonnie informed him that there was an urgent need for the NCA to procure cyber security equipment and that the National Security Secretariat needed four million dollars to purchase it.
“I requested for the letter from the National Security and I was impressed upon by the Board Chairman to prepare a transfer letter,” the witness said.
Dr Ane said he and Tevie signed the transfer request letter.
The witness then tendered the said transfer letter in evidence.
Dr Ane said two weeks later, the National Security Secretariat brought their request letter; in the presence of Tevie and Baffoe-Bonnie, assuming that the board had approved the transfer of money to Infralock Development Limited.
“It was afterwards that I saw in the papers that the NCA Board did not approve the transaction and based on that I was invited by the Bureau of National Investigations and Economic and Organised Crime Organisation (EOCO),” Dr Ane said.
According to the witness the $4million was transferred to Infralock Development Limited (IDL), through Ecobank Ghana.
“It was transferred from NCA dollar account to IDL,” he added.
Answering questions under cross examination by Mr Thaddeus Sory, Counsel for Baffoe-Bonnie, Dr Ane denied that he knew about the National Security Secretariat purchase of the cyber security equipment long ago.
Hearing continues on October 18 before a Commercial Court, presided over by Mr Justice Eric Kyei-Baffour.
The five accused persons are being held over alleged malfeasance into the purchase of the Cyber Surveillance Equipment.
They have variously been charged with wilfully causing financial loss to the State, conspiracy to steal and stealing, using public office for private gain, in contravention of the Public Procurement Act, Money laundering and intentionally misapplying public property.
The five have all pleaded not guilty and are on a bail of one million dollars each as well as three sureties each.
Sometime in 2015, the accused, without authorisation, took a decision to purchase a Cyber Surveillance system, which they claimed was to be used for anti-terrorism operations.
The system, which was to be used in the fight against terrorism, reportedly has some of its components missing, and it cannot be utilised.
On December 22, last year, three persons, including Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, former NCA Board Chairman and two others were hauled before the court over the alleged fraudulent purchase of the Cyber Security Surveillance system at a value of eight million dollars without approval of the Authority’s Board.