Ato Forson Trial Begins

Ato Forson 

The Office of the Attorney General yesterday called the Acting Director of Operations at the National Ambulance Service as its first witness in the trial of former Deputy Minister of Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson, and two others who have been accused of causing financial loss to the state.

The witness, Dr. Forster Ansong-Bridjan, led in his evidence-in-chief by Richard Gyambiby, a Principal State Attorney, told court about some major defects and anomalies found in the 10 ambulances imported into the country by Big Sea Company Limited, which is the subject of the trial.

Dr.  Forson, a former Deputy Minister of Finance under the John Dramani Mahama administration, together with Sylvester Anemana, a former Chief Director at the Ministry of Health, as well as private businessman, Richard Jakpa, are standing trial for allegedly wilfully causing financial loss of €2.37 million to the state.

The witness during his testimony told the court that in January 2015, he received information from the Chief Executive Officer of the National Ambulance Service about the 10 ambulances at forecourt of the State House which needed to be inspected.

Dr. Ansong-Bridjan, stated that on January 12, 2015, a team of four officers went to the State House to conduct the inspection, and they observed some defects and anomalies in the ambulance, which included the absence of some basis equipment that every ambulance must have.

He said the team observed that the ambulances had no patient monitoring equipment, which is made up of patient monitor, blood pressure monitor, stethoscope, glucometer and pulse oximetre.

He said other medical equipment which were needed but were absent in the ambulances is a resuscitation equipment, which includes but not limited to a bag valve mask, suction machine, portable ventilator, automatic external defibrillator, among others.

Again, he said the ambulances lacked animobilisation equipment, which includes items such as a spine board, splints of various types or sizes, head block, and cervical collars.

“We also observed that the attendant seat at the head of the trolley, which was a swivel chair, was not firmly fitted. We also observed that the other seats at the sides were also too low and will not give comfort to the paramedics. They were also without seat belts, which means the occupants will not be restrained during the movement of the ambulance,” Dr. Ansong-Bridjan told the court.

He continued that the cabinets where medications and other consumables would be kept were produced with a mica, with sharp edges which can easily cause injury to the occupants.

“We also observed that the drawers were also not self-locking, and were just moving back and forth. We also inspected the driver compartment and we observed that the seats were not covered with material that can easily be cleaned without soaking water. We inspected the engine to see how clean the engine compartment was,” he added.

He said the team put a report together with its findings and recommendations, and submitted it to the CEO of the National Ambulance Service, who put a memo on it and submitted it to the Minister of Health.

Dr. Ansong-Bridjan added that “after we submitted the report, we were asked to move the ambulances from State House to Airforce Base because the place they were packed was to be used for something else, so we sought permission from the Airforce Base Commander and moved them to Burma Camp.”

The court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe, adjourned the case to June 2, 2022 for the witness to be cross-examined by defence lawyers.

BY Gibril Abdul Razak