The controversial $6 million contract between the National Communications Authority (NCA) and NSO Group Technologies Limited – an Israeli company, maybe unconstitutional, Dean at the Faculty of Law at the GIMPA Law School, Ernest Kofi Abotsi has suggested.
Some former officials on the NCA Board including the Chairman, Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie; the Chief Executive Officer, William Tevie; a former Deputy National Security Coordinator, Alhaji Osman as well as a private businessman, George Oppong of Infraloks Development Limited, are being investigated by the BNI over some $4 Million withdrawn from the NCA’s account purportedly for the purchase of a listening device.
Article 181 (5) of the Constitution mandates state agencies to seek authorisation from Parliament, before entering into an international business transaction of which Government is a party.
It is, however, unclear if the deal went through Parliament.
Dean of GIMPA Law School, Ernest Kofi Abotsi
Speaking Friday, May 26, 2017, on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, Mr. Abosti said the entire transaction could be rendered invalid, if it did not satisfy the constitutional requirement.
Mr. Abosti further explained: “If government enters a contract [with a foreign firm], that contract is not only binding on government but the country as whole”.
According to him, the failure by state officials to comply with the constitutional provision may have a major implication on other parties involved in the transaction.
“If the contract is pronounced void, then it means all payments made under it were not sanctioned,” he declared.
Joy FM broke the news about how the officials, including Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, former Board Chairman; one Alhaji Osman, former Deputy National Security Coordinator, and others allegedly withdrew $4 million from the accounts of the NCA and have failed to account for it.
They had contracted an Israeli company, NSO Group Technology Limited, to supply listening equipment at the cost of $6 million, to enable National Security monitor conversations of persons suspected to be engaged in terror activities. A local agent, Infraloks Development Limited, was also charging $2 million to facilitate the transaction, bringing the total sum to $8 million.
But only $1 million was paid into the accounts of the Israeli company while the remaining $3 million was lodged into the accounts of one George Oppong, representing the local agents, Infraloks Development Limited.
Mr Oppong has issued a rejoinder claiming that the NCA on his blind side took sums amounting to $1.5 million from the account.
All the persons involved except Alhaji Osman [whose whereabouts are unknown] and Mr Tevie, have admitted to taking the money and have been granted bail after the BNI took their statements. Some of them have started refunding the money to the state.
Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid on Wednesday told Joy FM Government is determined to retrieve “every pesewa” wrongfully taken from the accounts of the National Communications Authority (NCA) by former Board members.
Asked why the state is not bringing charges against the culprits, the Information Minister, said the major focus of the BNI is to retrieve all the monies wrongfully taken form the state.
“Their goal is to retrieve as much of whatever was looted from the state as possible,” he told Super Morning Show host, Kojo Yankson in an exclusive interview.
Mustapha Hamid explained, there is always the difficulty in getting the monies paid back into the state coffers when the culprits are prosecuted or even incarcerated.
“Because, if you proceed now and push people to get conviction and so on…would the people then just go and serve jail term and come and enjoy their loot?
“I’m sure thereafter they (BNI) will take the decision whether to proceed with prosecution or not, but they [BNI] have told me their concentration now is on collecting the money,” he said.
Listen to excerpts of Ernest Kofi Abotsi’s interview in the attached audio: