The Economic and Financial Court on Monday conducted in camera the hearing of the case of 35 former employees of the National Service Scheme (NSS) implicated in an alleged massive fraud of the scheme.
This was after the court upheld prosecution’s prayer that, the witness who was to testify had received various threats on his life, hence want the witness evidence to be heard in camera. Prosecution Mrs. Marina Appiah-Opare, Principal State Attorney prayed the court that on the basis under which it was seeking the witness be heard in camera emanated from Article 19 of the 1992 Constitution.
Mrs. Appiah-Opare described the witness “an undercover and an officer of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).” According to the prosecutor, the witness since the beginning of investigations of the matter the operative has received several threats on his life adding the constitution allowed in camera hearing for the protection of life where an individual was concerned.
Mr Egbert Faibille Junior, one of the defence counsels vehemently opposed to the in camera hearing saying prosecution’s application was needless. According to Mr Faibille, the matter was a criminal one and as such prosecution’s application should have been brought before the court on notice.
He again demanded the appointment letter of the witness who had been described by prosecution as an “undercover”. “This is a misapplication made by prosecution, we have been ambushed. This is an infraction of the fundamental human rights of the accused persons,” Mr Faibille said. He said the public ought to know what transpire in the court hence the media should not be precluded in the case.
The court, presided over by Mrs. Georgina Mensah-Datsa overruled defence counsel’s application. Journalists covering the case were asked by the court to leave as its’ commenced with the in camera hearing. Alhaji Imoro Alhassan, Ex-Executive Director of NSS is standing trial with 34 other persons implicated in an alleged massive fraud at the Scheme.
Alhaji Imoro is facing an additional charge of “giving bribe to influence a public officer.” He is said to have on August 1 to September 26, 2014, given GH¢25,000.00 and GH¢15,000.00 to one Charles Kipo, of the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) Investigations, to influence him.
Alhaji Imoro, and 34 others have been put before the Court for conspiracy to commit crime, giving bribe to influence a public officer, and stealing. They have all pleaded not guilty to the charges of stealing more than GH¢107.8 million belonging to the State through the payment of ghost or non-existing service personnel.
They have been granted bail in various sums, ranging from GH¢30,000.00 to GH¢5 million by the court.