The Presidency, has denied claims that former National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) Coordinator, Abuga Pele, is being used as a scapegoat in the corruption controversy that has bedeviled the programme.
According to a Presidential Staffer, Dr .Clement Apaak, “…To say that Abuga Pele and Co are being used as sacrificial lambs, quite clearly can’t be given any authenticity, until they come forward with information to suggest and support why such claims are being made”.
He said: “Quite clearly the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Economic and Organized Crimes Office (EOCO) and the Attorney General’s Department, have together looked at this and identified the individuals that they feel and believe that based on the evidence, should be brought forward for querying, including prosecution; and Abuga Pele and others who are now before court, quite clearly will have the opportunity to present their side of the story”.
He spoke on Accra-based Radio XYZ. Mr. Pele and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Goodwill International Group, Philip Akpeena Assibit, are standing trial at the fast track high court on 19 criminal charges related to fraudulent contracts awarded to some private firms by the programme.
Now christened, Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), the NYEP, which was designed to absorb teeming unemployment youth with temporary jobs, has been fraught with unbridled corruption.
Most of the contracts signed between GYEEDA and some private firms were recently cancelled by Government. Some of the firms, have also been ordered to refund GH¢55 million to the State.
The Chairman of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, has applauded the move by Government to prosecute the former NYEP Coordinator, but said Mr. Pele; a Member of Parliament (MP) for Chiana-Paga must not be used as a scapegoat.
Meanwhile, Deputy Information and Media Relations Minister Ibrahim Murtala Muhammed says the prosecution of his former boss, Abuga Pele, for causing financial loss to the state, amongst other charges, is “sad”.
The former Deputy Coordinator at the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), later GYEEDA, says it is “disheartening” Abuga Pele is being prosecuted for his stewardship at the NYEP.
According to him, “In as much as I can’t and I wouldn’t stand in the way of justice, transparency and accountable governance, particular the enormous commitment shown by this government in fighting corruption and trying to expunge it from the annals of our political and governance system as a sovereign state, I believe I can state without any equivocation that Hon Abuga Pele gave his all to see [to] the success of the programme he managed as the leader for barely 4 years”.
Pele and the CEO of Goodwill International Group Philip Akpeena Assibit are answering questions on the fraudulent award of contracts to certain private firms under the GYEEDA programme.
The charges largely include causing financial loss to the state of about US$3 million and defrauding by false pretences. Murtala Muhammed wrote on his facebook page that: “Whatever the case is, I have no doubt whatsoever in the independence of our judiciary to dispense justice at all times”.
He also wished Pele well in the case.