SSNIT Scandal: Ernest Thompson and four others freed

The Supreme Court on Wednesday discharged former Director-General of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Ernest Thompson, together with four others, describing the charges levelled against them as inappropriate.

The other SSNIT Officials standing trial include; John Hagan Mensah, a former IT Manager, Caleb Kwaku Afaglo, a former Head of Management Information Systems (MIS), Peter Hayibor, Lawyer, as well as Juliet Hassana Kramer, the Chief Executive Officer of Perfect Business Systems (PBS).

The former Director General and his team were accused of causing financial loss of more than $14.8 million in purchase of the SSNIT Operational Business Suite (OBS) project. The five are charged with willfully causing financial loss to the state, conspiracy to commit the crime, defrauding by false pretenses in contravention of the public procurement act and authoring of forged documents.

They have however pleaded not guilty to the charges but prosecution is still pending while the parties haggle over the particulars of the offences.

Delivery a unanimous 5-Member Panel judgment, President of the Court, Justice Yaw Appau said the charges preferred against the accused persons did not meet the constitutional requirements of free and fair trial as provided for under article 19 and Section 122 of the Criminal Offences (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30).

The State had gone to the Supreme Court challenging a ruling of the Court of Appeal to the effect that the particulars of the offence levelled against Mr. Thompson were scanty.

But, Mr. Thompson prayed the Court to strike out the charges on grounds that the State failed to provide adequate particulars of the offences as provided for by the Constitution.

His lawyers insisted that the particulars provided to the offences were so scanty they could not rely on them to adequately defend Mr. Thompson.

The Supreme Court, constituted by Justices Yaw Appau, Agnes Dordzie, Avril Lovelace-Johnson, Gertrude Torkonoo and Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu, upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision dismissing the State’s application as without merit. President of the Court, Justice Appau, charged the Director of Public Prosecution, Yvonne Atakora Obuobisah, to re-look at the charges and provide enough particulars to them. The Court noted that the days are no more when the State could engage in ambush litigation.

The Parties are thus to return to the trial High Court on Monday, March 22, 2021.

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