The Minister for Health Kweku Agyeman Manu has told the High Court in Accra that he has not seen any documents that Dr Cassiel Ato Forson authorised payments for the purchase of ambulances.
The Minister who was facing cross-examination from defence lawyers made this known on his final day of scrutiny by defence lawyers.
Dr Abdul Basit Aziz Bamba, counsel for Ato Forson, had asked if the minister had sighted any documents at his ministry which indicated that the first accused authorised the payments of the contract sum of the ambulances.
The Minister who is the 3rd Prosecution Witness in the ongoing trial answered in the negative.
It was the case of counsel for Ato Forson, that, after the LCs (Letter of Credit) was established on August 18, 2014, he had not sighted any documents that indicated that A1 (Dr Ato Forson) authorised payments to be made under the LC.
Mr Agyeman Manu, who is the 3rd witness agreed with him, saying “I have not sighted any documents to show that A1 authorised payments for Ambulances.”
In the last day of his scrutiny, the Minister also admitted that the government failed to send its officials to inspect ambulances it was procuring before they were shipped to Ghana, contrary to the clear terms of the contract.
Under further cross-examination from lawyers for Dr Forson led by Dr Abdul Aziz Bamba on September 1, the defence confronted him with some exhibits, some of which he indicated he had not seen before.
Government failure on obligation
Kweku Agyeman also admitted that government did not perform one of its obligations under the contract.
“In my mind, I will say no. But my lady let me draw your attention to another fact. In that same bullet point, LCs on the sight of goods shall be established upon the signing of the contract for every 50 ambulances.
“My lady, Exhibit V that I have, speaks about purchasing brand new 200 medical ambulances. And so my lady, the contract for every 50 ambulances that clause 4.2 talks about, was never done. And therefore, the LCs should not have been established at all,” he told the court.
Asked again by Counsel Dr Bamba if he “will you agree with me that by the government of Ghana not complying with clause 4.2.1 in terms of the time frame for setting up the LC, the government of Ghana breached Exhibit V.“
The Health Minister said, “That is correct.”
Counsel again put to him that, to the best of his knowledge, did the government of Ghana conduct a pre-shipment inspection before the ambulances were shipped to Ghana, and the Health Minister answered in the negative.
He subsequently admitted that the Health Ministry reached an agreement with the supplier on a plan for rectifying the defects in the ambulances.
He added that some medical equipment for the vehicles shipped has never cleared from the ports.
Asked by Dr Bamba why the equipment was not cleared, the Minister said, the Ministry did not have the funds to do so and that, he had urged the supplier to clear the items which counsel stated that, it was the obligation of the Ministry of Health to clear the items.
“The testimony that you just gave is not correct. It was the responsibility of the Government of Ghana to clear the equipment,” counsel said.
But, the Health Minister said, “I do not see it so.”
The Minister for Health Kweku Agyeman Manu has been discharged by the High Court in Accra after ending his testimonies.
Kweku Agyeman Manu, who was in court as the 3rd Prosecution witness in the case in which Dr Ato Forson and two others are standing trial, was discharged after lawyers of the defence had separately subjected him to cross-examination.
After over two hours of cross-examination on Thursday, September 1, the court presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe discharged him.
“Thank you so much for your corporation, you are discharged, Justice Asare-Botwe remarked.
According to EIB Network’s Court Correspondent Murtala Inusah, the case has been adjourned to January 10, 2023, for the 4th witness to testify.
Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, who is also the NDC Member of Parliament (MP) for Ajumako Enyan Esiam, and the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee of Parliament, has been charged with Sylvester Anemana, a former Chief Director of the Ministry of Health and Richard Jakpa, a businessman, for allegedly causing financial loss of €2.37 million to the state in a deal to purchase some 200 ambulances for the country between 2014 and 2016.
They have all pleaded not guilty and are standing trial.