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General News of Friday, 23 February 2018


Reduce my jail-term, I have many children - Jailed Assibit pleads

The businessman convicted with former lawmaker Abuga Pele over the misappropriation of GHS3.3million at GYEEDA had begged the court for a lenient sentence.

Lawyers for Philip Assibit pleaded with the trial judge not to give their client a 'very long jail-term' because he is a chief who has "unnumbered children."

They had also argued the Nsawam prison was full and would be unable to accommodate more inmates, Joy News' Joseph Ackah-Blay reported from the court Friday.

An Accra High Court ended one of the longest-running trials against an ex-top government official who was GYEEDA National Coordinator and another who was a businessman.

Mr Pele was accused of wilfully conniving with Goodwill International Group (GIG) CEO, Mr Assibit to dupe the state to the tune of GHS3.3million in the name of having provided a service for the Authority.

The businessman had said he recruited and trained at least 230 youth to support a World Bank-funded programme dubbed Youth Enterprise Development Programme (YEDP).

But no evidence was adduced to back his claim and many others he made to justify payments made to him by the Authority between 2011 and 2012.

In a courtroom filled with sympathisers of the accused, Mr Assibit's legal counsel, Kwaku Paintsil asked the presiding judge for not more than a six-month jail term for his client.

He explained his client is a businessman and chief in his village who has many children to care for, adding a long jail-term will affect their upbringing.

Mr Pele's lawyer, Abu Juan had also pleaded for a lenient sentence, arguing the former lawmaker lost his seat because of the case.

But Justice Afia Serwaah Asare Botwe handed the former Chiana-Paga MP a six-year jail-term, while Mr Assibit was given 12 years.

Mr Abuga Pele's former colleagues have expressed their disappointment at the sentence, describing it as a "very harsh one."

Former Youth and Sports Minister, Rashid Pelpuo said he was shocked to learn the former GYEEDA boss will be going to prison.

"It has come with a measure of shock and a very painful experience.I have worked with him, I was a minister when he was the coordinator [but] I wish him well," he told Joy News' Joseph Opoku-Gakpo.

On his part, former Science Minister Mahama Ayariga said the judge could have given him a more lenient sentence.

"I regret what has happened, I feel sad about it [because] when a situation like this develops it is unfortunate," the Bawku West MP said.