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NCA Scandal: Verdict cannot be described as political witch-hunting - Prof Gyampo

Renowned Political Science lecturer at the University of Ghana, Professor Ransford Gyampo says the conviction of the three former employees of the National Communications Authority in the case of ‘The Republic versus Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie and four others’ cannot be described as witch-hunting.

According to Professor Gyampo, the facts of the case highlights a clear case of conspiracy to cause financial loss to the state.

He said, “Loss to the state, according to those who initiated it, was never meant to be used against offenders. This is because it could retard initiative and render people overly cautious in not taking financial risk, regardless of how pious their intentions may be. However, in the NCA case, it is quite instructive to say that this cannot be described as political witch-hunting.

The Court ruling suggests, to my mind that, this was a pure case of collusion to milk the State.”

Speaking to Ghanaweb in an interview Prof Gyampo advised all presidential candidates to be circumspect with their campaign promises in the fight against corruption as they do not have direct control over the justice system or the pace a perceived corrupt case will go in court.

“Politicizing the fight against corruption by making not-properly thought-through promises in an electioneering campaign, without taking cognizance of the fact that building evidence to support a case takes time may be unhelpful as it creates huge public expectations and heaps pressure on the government to expedite a process that it cannot control. This makes the government seem deficient in fighting corruption. It is that simple.

"If you promised to fight corruption and succeed in getting a conviction for only one case in almost four years, people will have legitimate reasons to feel the battle against the canker has been lost by your regime. But this may genuinely not be the case, as no government can fast track court processes.”

The Court presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, this week convicted three of the five accused persons who have been on trial in the case of “The Republic versus Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie and four others”.

The five were accused of misappropriating an amount of US$4 million belonging to the NCA. An Israeli company, NSO Group Technology Limited, was contracted by the erstwhile Mahama-led administration to supply listening equipment at a cost of US$6 million to be used by the National Security Secretariat to monitor the conversations of suspected terrorists. Infraloks Development Limited charged US$2 million to facilitate the transaction, bringing the total cost to US$8 million.

The NCA, with supervisory jurisdiction over the use of such equipment, was asked to fund the total cost of the transaction since the National Security did not have the money to do so. US$1 million out of the withdrawn amount of US$4 million was deposited into the account of NSO Group Technology Limited.

According to the Attorney General (AG), the remaining amount of US$3 million was deposited into the account of the local representative of Infraloks Development Ltd., businessman Mr Oppong. The case had been in court since December 2017.

The court started hearing the matter on January 16, 2018, when the state called its first prosecution witness, the Director of Legal Administration at the National Communications Authority (NCA), Abena Awarkoa Asafo Adjei, and ended on March 10, 2020, after the state, led by the Director of Public Prosecution, (DPP) Yvonne Atakora Obuabisa, concluded her cross-examination of the 5th accused person in the case, George Derek Oppong.

All the accused persons testified on their own and none called any defence witnesses in support of their cases.

Justice Eric Kyei Baffour's court, in its judgement, indicated that the state has established a strong case of causing financial loss to the state against the accused persons.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

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