SSNIT Saga: Claims of Ernest Thompson’s Arrest ‘False’ – Lawyers
The legal team of embattled former Director General of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Ernest Thompson, have described reports that their client was arrested over the SSNIT software scandal as false.
They described the claims as a deliberate attempt by the current management of the company to portray their client “as a criminal”
“There was a deliberate attempt to not only read, but to instruct the media present to report a falsehood, that our client and others were arrested and cautioned. Let us categorically state that EOCO was the investigating body and SSNIT has never investigated our client and is therefore in no position to tell the media the outcome of the investigations conducted by EOCO,”a press release signed by the solicitor for Mr. Ernest Thompson, A. Tetteh Mensah said.
“This obviously underscores the whole mischief behind the Press Conference and the avowed unprecedented hatred for our client, especially as the use of such a criminal word like ‘arrest’ would obviously portray our client as a criminal.”
They also denied any knowledge of an audit conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers Ghana (PWC) which is believed to have indicted their client, along with three others, leading to their reported arrest.
According to the statement, Mr. Thompson wasn’t given a hearing before PWC completed their months-long investigation and finalized the said report.
“Our client is unaware of any investigation or audit undertaken by PriceWaterHouse. We say this on authority because it would seem strange to us that an audit or investigation could be conducted over a period of several months and a report released without any hearing given to our client by PWC to state his side of the case. PWC never met our client before finalising its report,” the release said.
“It is one of the cardinal principles of law that no one can be condemned without a hearing ad no matter the scope of an investigation and notwithstanding any other investigations being conducted by different bodies, our client and other persons who may be affected by the outcome of an audit must be given hearing on the issue by the Auditors.”
Mr. Thompson and four others were initially reported to have been arrested by EOCO after the said report by PricewaterhouseCoopers indicted them in the scandal.
He is believed to have been charged with causing financial loss to the state with three others.
He was supposedly arrested together with the former Head of IT Department, Caleb Kwaku Afaglo; a former OBS project manager; John Hagan Mensah, one Thomas Samson Owusu and Juliet Hasana Kramah, the CEO of IT company, Perfect Business Systems.
The current management of SSNIT was also accused in the press release of playing politics with the investigations by releasing information to “selected” media houses while ignoring queries from journalists.
News of the indictment was first released to the media by the Trust’s Secretary, Gifty Annan, prompting the legal team to state that the body had turned itself into “the spokespersons for EOCO and the office of the Attorney General to allegedly release the outcome of investigations, which was solely conducted by EOCO.”
“At the said Press Conference, the SSNIT team even refused entry to some media houses, amidst protests, and only allowed its own selected and preferred media houses and personalities to enter the room. It is thus obvious and crystal clear that the SSNIT management has decided to do politics and in the process, has adopted as its weapons, persecution and victimization of our client and ignored the truth, evidence and facts surrounding this OBS project. They were not even prepared to be asked pertinent questions from media men they considered unfriendly to their cause, by preventing them entry,” the statement added.
We’ll be transparent
Speaking to the media earlier in the week, the Chairman of the board of SSNIT, Dr. Kwame Addo Kufuor, assured that SSNIT was going to be transparent in the matter, and that they will not shield anybody.
“This document is from EOCO; we are not pushing anything under the carpet. We are working very seriously… don’t think SSNIT is conniving with anybody,” Dr Addo Kufuor said.
A number of other revelations have been made by the current management of SSNIT including the fact that former Director-Generals of the body, including Ernest Thompson, traveled on first-class tickets on foreign trips.
The current Director General, Dr. Ofori-Tenkorang said he cancelled such benefits and opted for business class when he assumed office.
He also revealed that about ten staff of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust [SSNIT], have been dismissed in the last few months for possessing fake certificates.
“We had people who were in the system who didn’t even have certificates. And you know there was a flagship one [Mr. Afaglo]. Since then, I instructed that the certificates of all employees should be vetted and that vetting is still going on, but we’ve had to terminate about ten or so staff for possessing fake certificates,” he said.