By Bernice Bessey .
The submission of ‘No Case’ filed by defence counsel in the ongoing trial of the former management of the National Communication Authority (NCA) has been ruled against by an Accra High Court Judge, Justice Eric Kyei Baffuor.
According to the judge, a case of prima facie had been established by the prosecution, therefore, it was imperative for the accused persons to open their defence to prove their innocence of all the charges levelled against them.
The five accused persons standing trial, namely Baffoe-Bonnie, former Board Chairman (A1), William Tetteh Tevie, former Director General (A2), Nana Owusu Ensaw, a former Board Member (A3), Alhaji Salifu Mimina Osman, a former Deputy National Security Coordinator (A4), and George Derek Oppong, businessman (A5), were ordered yesterday to open their defence.
The accused persons, with the exception of A3, were discharged and acquitted of 15 out of the 17 counts, which include conspiracy to cause financial loss to the state, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, conspiracy to steal, using public office for profit, contravention of the Public Procurement Act, money counts, A2, eight, A3, six (now two), A4, seven and A5, six.
Justice Eric Kyei Baffuor, giving his ruling, indicated that despite the prosecution concluding its case by calling six witnesses, the accused persons must open their defence, starting from A1 on May 30, 2019, which would be followed by the others.
“All the five accused persons, at the close of the case for the prosecution, have invoked the provision supra, and in copious written submissions, that no case has been made against the accused persons sufficient enough to justify the court to invite them to open their case.
“And, indeed, even without any input from the accused persons, it is the duty of the court to determine whether at the close of the case for prosecution, sufficient evidence has been adduced to justify proceeding beyond this stage, or the trial being halted because a prima facie case has not been established,” he said.
In his view, a prima facie case has been made by the prosecution in respect of all the charges against A1, A2, A4, and A5, sufficient enough for him to call on them to open their defence.
He added that a prima facie case has been made against A3 also, only in respect of count ‘3’, being the stealing related charge and the offence of money laundering under count 14, thereby inviting him to open his defence in respect of those offences.
According to him, A3 was discharged of some of the accounts because he noted that A3 was not charged with dishonestly receiving, but with the offence of conspiracy to steal, and due to section 156 of Act 30 that connects stealing with dishonestly receiving, he deemed it necessary that an opportunity be offered to A3 to explain further how the US$300,000 was obtained and deposited almost contemporaneous to the time that the withdrawals of A5 started.
He, however, continued that the prosecution had been able to establish a prima facie case in respect of count ‘3’ and count ’14’, against A3.
This was as defence counsels for the accused persons – Abu Juan Jiagara, Godwin Temaklo, Samuel Cudjoe, Baffour Assasie Gyimah and Reindorf Twumasi Ankrah – put up a spirited argument that that no case had been against the accused persons sufficient enough to justify the court to invite them to open their case.
However, was his view that for the prosecution to deem to have made a prima facie case in respect of the offence of using public office for profit, there need not out of necessity be direct evidence of monies in the possession of the accused persons. The evidence recounted the supra of A1, A2, and A4 playing diverse roles in the exhibits, the extent to which efforts were geared to make the transaction to anybody, the transfer of the US$4 million, US$3 million, which was uncounted for until BNI retrieved one million to the Republic, with the whereabouts of the US$2 million still unknown.
The six witnesses called by prosecution are Abena Asarfo Adjei, Director of Legal Affairs at the NCA; Dr. Isaac Yaw Ani, Deputy Director General in-charge of Management and Operations; and Colonel Michael Kwadwo Poku, Director of Operations at National Security Secretariat.
Others include Duncan Opare, Deputy National Security Coordinator, and Detective Chief Inspector Michael Nkrumah, Investigator of the case.