Eugene Baffoe Bonnie and Abena Kwarkoa Asafu-Adjei and William Tevie
The first prosecution witness in the trial of four former National Communications Authority (NCA) Board members and a private businessman has concluded her testimony to an Accra High Court.
Director of Legal Administration at the NCA, Abena Kwarkoa Asafu-Adjei, was subsequently discharged after all five defence lawyers had concluded their cross-examination of the witness, insisting that there was no board approval for the deal.
The court heard how the Authority was wrongly represented on the purported IDL-NCA contract as National Communications ‘Agency’ instead of National Communication ‘Authority.’
She said despite the error, the former Director General of the Authority, William Tetteh Tevie, went ahead to sign the purported contract.
Mrs Asafu-Adjei has on many occasions insisted that the said contract is not valid, as there was no point in time did the NCA board take a decision to procure a Cyber Surveillance system, adding that a copy of the said contract could not even be located among the contracts executed by the Authority.
The immediate-past board members, including Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, the chairman; William Mathew Tetteh Tevie, former Director General of the NCA; Dr Nana Owusu Ensaw, former chairman of finance sub-committee of the NCA board; Alhaji Salifu Mimina Osman, former National Security deputy Coordinator on the NCA board, as well as private businessman and George Derek Oppong, Director of Infraloks Development Limited (IDL), have been charged with wilfully causing financial loss to the state and stealing.
Counsel for Mr. Tevie, Agbesi Dzakpasu, during his cross-examination of the witness, asked what she knew about cyber security and she told the court that she is not a technical person and therefore does not know things pertaining to that.
Asked how she knew that the NCA does not handle Cyber Security matters as she claimed she is not a technical person, the witness said in her evidence-in-chief that she mentioned to the court that NCA does not handle cyber surveillance and at no point did she mention cyber security.
Mr. Dzakpasu then pointed out to the witness that the NCA was at the centre of cyber security in Ghana and institutions such as the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and the office of the Attorney General rely on it for correspondence for cyber security.
“Unfortunately, that is not so. It is the Ministry of Communications that has the responsibility over cyber security in the country,” Mrs. Asafu-Adjei replied.
Col (Rtd) Asase Gyima, counsel for Alhaji Mimina Osman, in his cross-examination, asked if the National Security Council had made a request for institutional support, and the witness said that in her 14 years of working at the NCA, the National Security Council had never made such a request from the NCA.
The lawyer then asked the witness whether she had seen the said equipment which was procured through the contract, and the witness said she only saw some Pegasus Surveillance System in the contract shown her by the case investigator.
Lawyer: I put it to you that it is a valid contract between the NCA and IDL.
Witness: I also insist that this was never one of the contracts NCA executed.
Randolph Twumasi, who was holding the brief of Osafo Buabeng, counsel for the private businessman, George Dereck Oppong, also put it to the witness that the Director-General of the NCA who is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Authority, has the power to execute contracts for and on behalf of the NCA.
Mrs. Asafu-Adjei indicated that it’s true, but that must follow due process and although the said contract bears the signature of the Director General, it did not follow due process.
When asked whether she had the approval of the NCA board to testify in the trial, she said as an officer of the Authority, “I have the authority to testify in this matter, especially when it borders on issues concerning the NCA.”
When Mr. Osafo Buaben took over the cross-examination, he put it to the witness that the Director General does not need to produce the board minutes, board resolutions and approvals to execute contracts for and on behalf of the NCA with third parties.
Mrs. Asafu-Adjei, however, parried it, stating that the Act that establishes the NCA does not demand that but the board has a mandate to regulate contracts in accordance with good corporate governance.
Samuel Cudjoe, who is representing Nana Owusu Ensaw, had earlier prayed the court to allow his colleagues carry out their cross-examinations as he would be late to the proceedings, hoping that by the time he got to the court, his colleague defence lawyers would have concluded their cross-examination.
When it finally got to his turn, he told the court, “There will be no cross-examination of this witness.”
The presiding judge, Justice Eric Kyei Baffuor, subsequently adjourned the matter to Thursday, January 25, 2018, for the prosecution to produce its second witness.