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It has emerged that the immediate-past Board Chairman of National Communications Authority (NCA), Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, ordered the release of $4 million to a private company, Infraloks Development Limited (IDL), for the purported supply of cyber surveillance system to the National Security Council Secretariat which allegedly ended in private pockets.
The release of the funds to the National Security which was not included in the 2016 budget of the NCA, was done at the blind side of the authority’s governing board and according to the report, part of the money was shared among some of the directors.
Deputy Director General in charge of management and operations at NCA, Dr. Isaac Yaw Ani who oversaw the transfer of the funds to the private company told an Accra High Court yesterday that he authorized the transfer of the funds because he was under the assumption that the board had approved the payment.
The immediate past Board Chairman of the NCA, Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, together with William Mathew Tetteh Tevie, former Director General of the NCA; Nana Owusu Ensaw, a former chairman of finance sub-committee of the NCA; Alhaji Salifu Mimina Osman, a former National Security Coordinator on the NCA Board as well as a private businessman, George Derek Oppong, Director of Infraloks Development Limited (IDL), have been accused of conspiring to, and successfully causing financial loss to the state.
They are being charged for allegedly creating, looting and sharing a staggering $4 million among themselves under the guise of procuring a Cyber Surveillance System which they claimed was to be used for anti-terrorism activities in the country.
It has already been established that the purchase of the equipment was not budgeted for by the NCA and there was no existing contract between the NCA and IDL, or a board approval for the supply of any cyber surveillance system.
But it has emerged that the purchase of the system was an institutional support request from the National Security Council Secretariat to curb the increase in cyber fraud in the country.
However, the support did not go through the usual channels of approval for the release of funds as done in the case of other requests from other state institutions through the Ministry of Communications.
Cyber Security System
Dr. Isaac Yaw Ani who is the second prosecution witness in the trial of the NCA gang of five, led in his evidence-in-chief by Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, Director of Public Prosecutions, told the court that in 2016, NCA received two institutional support requests from the Communications Ministry on behalf of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and the National Security.
He said the request on behalf of GBC was sent to the then Director General of NCA, William Mathew Tetteh Tevie who sent it to the board for approval and it was later minuted to the finance committee for processing when the approval was given.
In the case of the purchase of the so-called cyber security equipment, he told the court that he was in his office in February 2016, then as the director of finance when he had a call from the Director General to meet him in his office.
“When I got to the office, the board chairman, Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie was with the Director General and the board chairman said that there is urgent need by the national security to procure cyber security equipment and therefore we should support the national security with $4 million”, Dr. Ani told the court.
The witness said he requested for the letter from the national security requesting the support because it would be needed by the finance and audit units for the transfer but Mr. Baffoe-Bonnie said because of the urgency of the situation “we should go ahead and prepare a transfer letter whiles he gets the request letter”.
“But because of the urgency, the board chairman impressed on me to prepare a transfer letter on behalf of Infraloks Development Limited. I prepared the transfer letter on behalf of Infraloks Development Limited for $4 million and I signed and the Director General also signed, waiting for the letter of request from the National Security to process it”, Dr. Ani told the court.
He said after preparing the letter of transfer, he waited for the request letter from National Security to process the transfer letter. Dr. Ani indicated that after two weeks the request letter from National Security came.
“I was in my office when the Director General called me that the request letter was in. I went for the letter titled ‘Letter of request for support by the National Security Council Secretariat for cyber security readiness in Ghana’ and minuted on it so that the finance committee can process it”, the court heard.
He said the letter indicated that the Board Chairman, Mr. Baffoe-Bonnie had authorized the payment and it was signed by the Director General, Mr. Tevie.
“When I received this letter, I assumed that the Director General had received the necessary approval from the board and I went ahead to authorise the finance committee to authorise the transfer of funds to Infraloks Development Limited on behalf of the National Security Council Secretariat”.
“It was after a year or so that I saw in the papers that the board has not approved this transaction and I was invited by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and the Economic and Organised Crime Organisation (EOCO) on this document” Dr. Ani testified.
Private legal practitioner, Thaddeus Sory, who is the lead counsel for Mr. Baffoe-Bonnie put it to the witness that he is not being truthful to the court when he said he first got to know about the request from the National Security Council Secretariat somewhere in February 2016 because he got to know about it long before then.
But the witness stated he was saying the truth and cannot remember knowing about it before February 2016.
Mr. Sory asked the witness whether he knows McKush Consultancy Services and LTI and whether McKush Consultancy Services had had any relationships with Infraloks Development Limited.
Dr. Ani stated that he knows McKush Consultancy Services because it is a consultancy company he established but it has no relationship with IDL. He however, denied knowing LTI.
Hearing continues tomorrow.
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