State calls first prosecution witness in $66m SSNIT OBS trial

The $66 million SSNIT Operational Business Suite (OBS) trial has commenced with the State calling it’s first prosecution witness.

Mr. Godson Kwadzo Ladzekpo, the first prosecution witness, was led in evidence by Mrs Yvonne Atakora Obuobisah, the Director of Public Prosecution.

But Mr Samuel Cudjoe, one of the counsels of Ernest Thompson, ex Managing Director of SSNIT, raised questions why the witness they had all agreed to appear and testify in the case at the last sitting had been changed.

Originally, one Mary Negatey was billed to mount the witness box to testify for the State.

The DPP informed the court that Ms Negatey was not available hence the change.

Mr Cudjoe’s case was that he had prepared and read over Negatey’s witness statement and he had studied all the documents she would be tendering.

However, when the case was called it was Mr Ladzekpo who mounted the witness box.

The DPP in her response indicated to the court presided over by Mr Justice Henry Kwofie, a Court of Appeal Judge, sitting with additional responsibilities a High Court, that the State last week called all lawyers except that of Charles Hayibor’s and informed them about the changes.

She was of the opinion that the witness statements had been filed since last year and that they had all gone through all of them.

Although the trial judge expressed same sentiments of defence counsel on the changes made in respect of the witness, he (Judge) allowed Mr Ladzekpo to mount the box and he read out his witness statement written on July 6, 2021.

Mr. Ladzekpo, the acting Managing Director in charge of Management Information Systems (MIS), SSNIT had his witness statement admitted in evidence.

The first prosecution witness also tendered into evidence such as the Tender document for the procurement of the OBS, a tender evaluation report and some e-mail correspondence from Juliet Hassana Kramer, one of the accused persons.

He also tendered lists of amendments made to the tender document for the OBS.

The accused persons indicted in the SSNIT $66 million scandal are: Mr. Thompson, John Hagan Mensah, former Information Manager of SSNIT, Juliet Hassan Kramer, Chief Executive Officer of Perfect Business Consult, Caleb Kwaku Afaglo, former Head of Management Information Systems, SSNIT and Peter Hayibor, a lawyer at SSNIT.

The five accused persons are being tried over the $66million SSNIT Operational Business Suite (OBS project), which was meant to revamp the operations of SSNIT through Information Communications Technology.

The accused persons have denied the various charges -conspiracy to wilfully cause financial loss to the state and wilfully causing financial loss to the state.

Thompson and Kramer are being held jointly over three counts of contravening the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663).

Afaglo and Kramer are also facing a charge of defrauding by false pretences.

Afaglo has been accused again for securing his employment at SSNIT with fake certificates and he is also said to have possessed forged documents and altering the said forged certificates.

The five accused persons have pleaded not guilty and are on bail.

Source: GNA

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