Eugene Baffoe Bonnie, a former Board Chairman of the National Communication Authority (NCA) indicted with two others over the fraudulent purchase of a four million dollar cyber security equipment, have been and convicted and sentenced to various jail terms by an Accra High Court.
Baffoe Bonnie is to serve six years jail term while William Mathew Tetteh Tevie, former Director General, NCA and Alhaji Osman Mimina, former National Security Coordinator and a Chief were to serve five years imprisonment each on the charges of conspiracy and willfully causing financial loss to the state.
Tevie and Mimina were however acquitted by the court on the charge of stealing and money laundering.
Baffoe Bonnie will additionally serve three years for money laundering but his sentences will run concurrently.
The court had found them guilty on the charges after the Prosecution had called six witnesses during the trial which began in December 22, 2017.
The court however acquitted and discharged, Mr. George Derrick Oppong, a businessman whose company facilitated the purchase of the cyber security equipment also known as the Pegasus machine by the NCA for National Security.
The court ordered the Attorney General to take steps to the recover the monies lost by the state and to take steps to retrieve the convicts’ assets worth $3-million for the state.
The convicts, according to the court were handed the sentences based on the roles each played.
According to the court, although Tevie and Mimina did not personally benefitted directly, they exhibited recklessness and acted with impunity.
In the case of Baffoe Bonnie, the court presided over by Mr. Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, a Court of Appeal Judge sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court Judge, recounted that he personally benefited $200,000 in the said transaction.
According to the court the convicts were “experienced men of the world but not young offenders and their sentences should be deterrent to public office holders.’’
It declined to offer various fines to the convicts in spite of their various health conditions.
The accused persons, according to the court, had abused their positions of trust and could easily afford to pay the fines.
“People would use their affluence to avoid jail when granted the opportunity,” the court said.
The court further called for a complete overhaul of the Criminal Offences Act 29 and the Criminal Procedure Code, Act 30 to avoid persistent interruption and delays of trials.
Various counsel in their plea for mitigation for the convicts, entreated the court to impose fines because of the health issues and the fact that the accused had served the state all their lives and were only found culpable in the present matter.
Mr. Godwin Tamakloe, counsel for Tevie said his client had been on dialysis for the past 15 years hence the plea for a fine.
“In the era of COVID-19 and health condition of the accused person, a prison term would amount to his death warrant. My client did not personally benefitted from the transaction.”
Baffour Asase Gyimah who represented Alhaji Mimina said it is sad that his client has been found guilty because he (Mimina) had dedicated all his life for security of the country.
According to him, the Pegasus was still in the country.
Mrs. Yvonne Atakorah Obuobisa, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) reminded the court that the charges preferred against the accused persons were second degree felony and least they could get was 10 years jail term.
The case of the state was that the four million dollar scandal occurred in the year 2016.
The convicts were variously charged with stealing, using public office for personal gain, willfully causing financial loss to the state in respect of the purchase of a cybersecurity equipment which was to be used in the fight against terrorism in the country.
The cyber security equipment was imported and placed in a warehouse in Accra.
That an inventory taken by the investigators indicated that some components of the equipment were missing and there was no software to facilitate its operations hence same had been rendered unusable.