Details are emerging that, the Akufo-Addo government, gifted the former Director—Legal at the National Communication Authority (NCA), Abena Asafu-Adjei, a two-year contract to conveniently nail the five former appointees of the Authority, who are being tried at the Accra Fast Track High Court over corruption allegation.
Abena Asafu-Adjei, wife of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Nsuta-Kwamang Beposo Constituency in the Ashanti Region, Kwame Asafu-Adjei, was not only offered a job by way of a two-year contract from the Akufo-Addo government, but has also been used by the government as a prosecution witness in the ongoing criminal trial.
Abena Asafu-Adjei, had attained 60 years and retired last year, but retained by the government as Director -Legal. In this capacity, she also acts as Director-General of the NCA, when the substantive head, Joe Anokye, is out of the country on private business, as well as official assignment.
What is shocking is that by the NCA’s corporate governance, Mr. Anokye, is mandated to handover to any of the three Deputy Director-Generals namely; Dr. Isaac Yaw Ani, Deputy Director-General, Managerial Operations, Henry Kanor, Deputy Director-General, Technical Operations and Prince Ofosu Sefah, Deputy Director General in charge of Operations.
The Herald, has since seen many internal memos confirming how messy the vital state institution is been managed since the advent of the Akufo-Addo administration with politics and cronyism overriding good corporate governance.
Abena Asafu-Adjei, is the first prosecution witness for the government and already, Thaddeus Sory, lawyer for the former Board Chairman of the NCA, Eugene Baffuor-Bonnie, has raised red flag accusing her of being on vengeful mission against his client.
Mr. Baffuor-Bonnie and his other board members, ordered Mrs. Asafu-Adjei, to take her eight months accumulated leave against her will.
NCA workers, skip their annual mandatory leaves and convert them into cash upon retirement. By the former board led by Mr. Baffuor-Bonnie, canceled the policy sending Mrs. Asafu-Adjei and others home to enjoy their accumulate leave.
According to a number of internal Memos intercepted by The Herald, instead of the three Deputy Director Generals, Mrs. Asafu-Adjei is always written to take charge of the institution anytime Mr. Anokye is not around to perform his duties.
For instance a Friday, 23 February, 2017 Memo from Joyce G. A. Abbey, Secretary to Mr. Anokye, first communicated to staff that, Mrs. Asafu-Adjei was going to act as the Director General in the absence of the NCA boss. This happened when Mr. Anokye was traveling to participate in a GSMA Ministerial Programme in Barcelona-Spain.
Sensing the anomaly, another memo was issued saying, although Mrs. Asafu-Adjei, was going to act as Director-General, she was going to perform her duties in partnership with the two Deputy Director-Generals.
The Memo from the NCA boss to Mrs. Asafu-Adjei read in parts that “as discussed with you, I shall be away from the office to attend the GSMA Ministerial Programme in Barcelona from 27th February-1st March 2017; I shall be back in the office on Friday, 3rd March, 2017. During my absence, you are kindly requested to act and address the under-listed issues”.
She was asked to supervised a stakeholders meeting- Interconnect Clearing House, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Action Items from Management Meeting held on 13rd and 20th February 2017, Strategic Changes in Management, Staff Performance Bonus etc.
A second Memo dated March 20, 2017, also asked Mrs. Asafu-Adjei to act on behalf of Mr. Anokye, who was going to participate in a Commonwealth Cyber security Forum: 21st -24 March 2017: BT Centre, London, United Kingdom.
It said “As discussed with you, I will be away from the office to attend the Commonwealth Cybersecurity Forum from 21 March, 2017in London, UK. I shall be back in the office on Monday, 27th March 2017”.
She was also tasked to carry out a task when her boss travelled in a letter, saying “The application for Airtel/Tigo merger has been received. NCA has executed its portion of the Non-Disclosure Agreement and forwarded same to Airtel/Tigo for its finalization”.
In a third memo dated May 12, 2017, Mr. Anokye was traveling to Geneva-Switzerland to participate in ITU Council 2017; from May 15-22nd 2017, yet again handed over his duties to the Director Legal, instead of his three deputies.
A fourth memo dated June 5, 2017, announcing Mr. Anokye’s trip to Strasbourg –France, also asked Mrs. Asafu-Adjei to act as the NCA Director General from June 5th to 10th 2017.
The former Director-General, William Tevie; a former Board Chairman, Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie and two board members, Nana Owusu Ensaw, Alhaji Salifu Mimina Osman ex-Deputy National Security Coordinator and a businessman, George Derek Oppong respectively, have been accused of playing various roles leading to the loss of $4 million to the state.
They are accused of engaging in infractions in the procurement of listening devices for the state. They are facing four counts of conspiracy to wilfully causing financial loss to the state and conspiracy to steal.
They have also been accused of acting jointly to misapply $4 million, belonging to the state and each been granted a $1 million bail, with three sureties.
The court, has directed the accused persons to surrender their passports to the registrar of the court.
According to the facts of the case, Baffoe-Bonnie, Tevie and Osman, a former Deputy National Security Coordinator, were allegedly aided by a private citizen, Oppong, to engage in the offence.
It is the case of the state that the previous administration had contracted an Israeli company, NSO Group Technology Limited, to supply listening equipment at a cost of $6 million to enable the authorities to monitor conversations of persons suspected to be engaged in terror activities.
A local agent, Infraloks Development Limited, charged $2 million to facilitate the transaction, bringing the total sum to $8 million.
The National Security, did not have the money to fund the transaction and for that reason NCA, which has a supervisory jurisdiction over the use of such equipment, was asked to fund the project.
It said, $4 million was withdrawn from the account of the NCA, while $1 million out of the withdrawn amount was deposited into the account of the Israeli company.
According to the state, the remaining $3 million was lodged in the account of Oppong, who acted as a representative of the local agents, Infraloks Development Ltd. Alhaji Osman allegedly fronted for the entire deal.
Testifying for the prosecution, Mrs Asafu-Adjei, had said though the former Director-General could sign contracts for and on behalf of the NCA, such contracts were subject to the board’s approval.
Normally, she said, copies of contracts approved and signed were always picked from the legal office after it had been made known to the board of NCA, according to regulation and good corporate governance.
Mrs Asafu-Adjei, also pointed out that there was no contract prepared between the NCA and Infraloks Development Limited (IDL), a local agent, saying: “I would have seen this contract as a legal officer if it had been prepared.”
She said she had been with the NCA since June 2003, explaining that the core mandate of the authority was to assign licences, frequencies and regulation of communication space of various telecommunication operators.
“We monitor the quality of service, monitor network of various communication providers and compliance with licence conditions,” she said, and denied that the NCA was mandated to monitor cyber security in Ghana.
She also blatantly denied ever referring to the monitoring of cyber security as one of the core functions of the NCA during her evidence in chief, stating that the authority only undertook cyber surveillance of personal data by assigning frequency and authorisation to telcos.
“The NCA recently set up cyber unit which gives it an oversight over what communication service providers do,” she said, adding that issues of cyber security were the responsibility of the Ministry of Communications.
Answering a question on the establishment of committees by the NCA to perform functions of the boards on its behalf, Mrs Asafu-Adjei, said the NCA Act, provided for the board to set up committees as part of management, but the Act did not require the committees to take over the functions of the board, including the signing of contracts.