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General News Thu, 31 Oct 2013

Shoddy GYEEDA report; Prosecution very difficult

It is now emerging from the ongoing questioning of individuals and institutions indicted in the Ministerial Impact Assessment and Review Committee’s report on the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency (GYEEDA) that the committees’ work cannot guarantee successful prosecution of officials implicated because it is legally inconclusive.

Contrary to expectations of many Ghanaians that the report will lead to the prosecution and punishment of some officials including politicians mentioned in the report, the news is that the committee’s report fell short of establishing clear-cut criminal conduct of officials mentioned in it; instead, it largely brought to the fore, systemic failure, administrative lapses and structural defects which will be difficult hanging around any one individual.

Sources close to investigators from the joint committee of Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service and the Economic and Organized Crime Office narrated to The Al-Hajj how as a result of capacity constraints, the committee that worked on the GYEEDA report was unable to carry out a comprehensive job, such as establishing criminality on the part of the officials it indicted.

“The report was inconclusive, it didn’t establish any clear-cut criminality against most of the officials mentioned in the report, what the committee did was to expose the systemic failures and administrative lapses rather than criminal investigations…and from the look of things the report lacks the needed ingredients to pass for any meaningful criminal charges,” the source told this paper.

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The Al-Hajj’s investigations also revealed that contrary to people’s high expectations of seeing the alleged immoral officials indicted in the GYEEDA scandal hauled before court and punished; a critical analysis of the committee’s report show that in most instances, it is rather the entire state machinery under Presidents Kufuor, Mills and Mahama administrations, which virtually stood accused.

For example, the Ministerial Impact Assessment and Review Committee in its summary report blamed the entire Parliament, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Administrator of the District Assemblies Common Fund for non-adherence to laid down procedures, particularly in drawing money from District Assembles Common Fund, the Consolidated Fund, and the National Health Insurance Fund among other statutory funds.

Aspects of the report read “GYEEDA receives funding directly from the Consolidated Fund and other statutory sources, such as the GETFund, the NHIS Fund, the Road Fund and the Communication Service Tax (CST).

These statutory funds were set up by various legislations to meet specific objectives. Funding allocation by Parliament for GYEEDA from sources such as the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) without the requisite amendment of article 252 of the 1992 Constitution and Act 455 amounts to a breach of article 252 of the 1992 Constitution and Act 455 establishing the DACF. This is a dereliction of duty on the part of Parliament, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Administrator of the District Assemblies Common Fund.”

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Speaking to The Al-Hajj on this matter, a legal expert specializing in criminal prosecutions, for example, cited the portion below captured in the committee’s report and retorted; “what can one make of this conclusions?”

“The Committee is of the view that various Ministers including Hon. Joseph Kofi Adda, Hon. Boniface Abubakar Saddique, Hon. Nana Akomea, Hon. Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, Hon. Rashid Pelpuo, Hon. Akua Sena Dansua and Hon. Clement Kofi Humado; Chief Directors and National Coordinators of the Programme were those who were expected to provide leadership to make sure that the objectives of this laudable programme were realized as efficiently as possible… “It is clear, however, that the requisite level of influence, commitment, circumspection and/or leadership required of persons entrusted with the management of public funds was not exercised at all times. Ghana must do all it can to sustain this programme for the sake of the youth. Government must hold the bull by the horn and implement the recommendations contained in this report. It is also critical that recommendations from previous Auditor General’s Reports on GYEEDA are implemented without delay”.

Another interesting part of the report which runs throughout the 177 page report says “One of the greatest problems faced by GYEEDA is the absence of an appropriate governance framework. This evidently contributed to other system failures. GYEEDA lacks a legal basis and accordingly did not have board of directors for the needed oversight and strategic direction.”

Probably, this is what might have prompted the Managing Editor of the Insight Newspaper, Mr. Kwesi Pratt Jnr., to have boldly questioned if "criminal prosecution can establish the facts and punish the mess at GYEEDA".

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A government action paper on the GYEEDA report also confirmed, the Ministerial Impact Assessment and Review Committee admitted, they did not have access to all information they required and did not have enough time to get into greater details on certain other aspects of the report. It said the Committee was unable to interrogate some of the individuals mentioned in the report

The most difficult task that confronted the Ministerial Impact Assessment and Review Committee as capture in its report states: “The Committee is deeply concerned about the inability of the MoYS to provide it with copies of contracts signed between 2006 and 2008. Hence the Committee was unable to enquire into, and comment on, the regularity or otherwise of all the contracts executed prior to 2008. In some instances, the Committee had to work with documents provided by the immediate past National Coordinator of GYEEDA and former Ministers of MOYS”.

President John Dramani Mahama recently announced that the CID and EOCO have begun questioning officials allegedly involved in corrupt practices at GYEEDA.

But, the Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt, though not a lawyer, doubts if government prosecutors will be able to establish criminal intent on the part of officials cited for corruption in the GYEEDA report.

In his argument based on what according to him, is termed in law as 'general deficiency', “proving that monies were not used judiciously, is not enough if there is no monitoring systems in place as was the case at GYEEDA.

He posited that "the real mess is the absence of institutional framework, which guarantee accountability...the real problem at GYEEDA is not that people went and stole money" but that it operated without a legal framework.

The renowned Journalist cited aspects of the report on GYEEDA where beneficiaries under the sanitation program were paid Ghc100 when GYEEDA had budgeted Ghc500, an allegation Zoomlion has provided proof of how the money was spent on procuring equipment such as tricycles, boots, apparel and others for the workers.

Insisting, it is very "contentious" and it would be difficult establishing criminal charges in such instance.

Source: The Al-Hajj