SSNIT OBS Scandal: SC Dismisses Charges Against Ernest Thompson, 4 Others

Ernest Thompson

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that charges preferred against former Director-General of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Ernest Thompson, and four others by the State were inappropriate

Thompson and four others are being held for allegedly causing financial loss to the State of over $14.8 million in the SSNIT Operational Business Suite (OBS) project.

The five member panel presided over by Justice Yaw Appau ruled that the charges preferred against the accused persons did not meet the constitutional requirements.

The State had gone to the apex court to challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal, which held that the particulars of offence levelled against Thompson and others were inadequate and scanty.

The five member panel ruled that, it was in agreement with decision of the Court of Appeal.

It, therefore, dismissed the appeal by the state on the basis that it had no merit.

The court tasked Director of Public Prosecution (DPP),Yvonne Atakorah Obuobisah, who represented the State to take a look at the charges.
Mr Thompson has been charged before a High court with John Hagan Mensah, a former Information Technology (IT) Manager at SSNIT, Juliet Hassana Kramer, Chief Executive Officer of Perfect Business Systems (PBS); Caleb Kwaku Afaglo, a former Head of Management Information Systems (MIS) at SSNIT; and Peter Hayibor, lawyer for SSNIT.

They have denied the various charges before an Accra High Court.

The former SSNIT boss wanted the charges against him struck out on grounds that the prosecution failed to provide adequate particulars of the offences as required by law.

Thompson contended that the prosecution failed to provide sufficient particulars of the offences levelled against him as required under Article 19 (2) of the 1992 Constitution and Section 122 of the Criminal Offences (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30).

He contended that the particulars were scanty and did not afford him any concrete information to enable him mount his defence.

The prosecution, on the other hand, insisted that the particulars of the offences contained adequate information, and argued that the contention of Mr Thompson when allowed to hold, would amount to the prosecution providing evidence in the particulars of offence.

The offences levelled against Mr Thompson and the other accused persons included willfully causing financial loss to the State, conspiracy to commit the crime, defrauding by false pretence in contravention of the public procurement act and authoring of forged documents.

Other Justices on the panel are Agnes M.A. Dordzie, Avril Lovelace-Johnson, Gertrude Torkonoo and Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu.

In June 2010, SSNIT initiated the $34 million OBS project to use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to revamp its operations to enable it to provide a state-of-the-art pension administration system in the country.

It is the case of the prosecution that between September 2013 and September 2016, the five accused persons engaged in various illegalities that caused financial loss to the State in relation to the said project.

The prosecution said the contract sum also ballooned from $34 million to over $66 million, even though the OBS system failed to perform efficiently as the project contract had envisaged.