The Court of Appeal has set June 18 to give its ruling on three appeals filed by lawyers for former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Ernest Thompson, and four others who have been accused of causing financial loss to the state.
An Accra High Court where the trial is expected to take place has subsequently put the trial on hold pending the outcome of the appeal.
The appeal emanated from an application filed by lawyers for Mr. Thompson praying the court to drop the charges preferred against the ex-SSNIT boss and two others or in the alternative make an order directed at the Attorney General’s Department to provide them with details of the charges against them.
Mr. Thompson and three former management members of SSNIT and a private businesswoman have been accused of causing financial loss to the state in the award of the controversial and failed $72 million IT project – Operational Business Suite (OBS).
Caleb Kwaku Afaglo, General Manager of Management Information Systems at SSNIT, and Peter Hayibor, General Counsel of SSNIT, are the other accused persons.
They have been accused of inflating the contract sum of the OBS from $34,011,914.21 to $66,783,148.08 through what were termed variously as ‘change orders’ and ‘variations.’
The separate motions were moved on March 22, 2019, and the lawyers argued that the charges against their clients were unconstitutional as they breached Article 19(2) (d) and (11) of the Constitution.
They also claimed the charges did not contain detailed particulars as required by section 112(1) of Act 30.
The prosecution, led by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Yvonne Attakora-Obuobisa, opposed the motions and argued that the lawyers were rearguing issues that had already been determined by the Supreme Court in respect of other cases.
In his ruling, Justice Kwofie of the Court of Appeal, sitting as additional High Court judge, dismissed the applications saying the issues raised by the accused persons had already been determined by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
He held that the charges levelled against the accused persons contained particulars necessary to give the applicants reasonable information as to the nature of the charges preferred against them.
The court also ruled that to accede to the request of the lawyers would amount to compelling the prosecution to provide evidence in the charge sheet.
Not satisfied with the decision, their lawyers filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal challenging the decision of the High Court.
They subsequently filed another application seeking to stay the trial at the High Court until the verdict of the Court of Appeal.
Those applications were also dismissed by the judge who held that lawyers for the three accused persons had not demonstrated any special circumstances to warrant a stay of the proceedings.
The case was expected to continue yesterday but when the case was called the court heard that the accused persons had filed another application urging the court to stay its proceedings.
Having been told that the Court of Appeal would give its ruling on June 18, Justice Kwofie decided to put the trial on hold pending the outcome of the appeal.
The case has been adjourned to June 24.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak