An Accra High Court presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour has found former government officials guilty of causing financial loss to the State and sentenced them to various prison terms, in the matter of purchasing the Pegasus hardware produced by the Israeli company, NSO.
The officials, are a former Director-General and former Board Chairman of the National Communications Authority (NCA), and a former National Security Coordinator.
The former Director-General of the NCA, William Tetteh Tevie was given a five-year jail term, Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, the Board Chairman received a six-year sentence and Salifu Osman, a former National Security Coordinator got five years.
The fourth accused in the case, Nana Owusu Ensaw, a former Board member of the NCA filed an appeal and had a ruling in his favour leading to his discharge.
The fifth accused, George Derick Oppong, former Director of Infralocks Development Limited (IDL), the loacl rep of NSO was acquitted and discharged.
The court further ordered the Attorney-General to seize assets belonging to the convicted persons estimated to be worth $3 million.
The case has been in court since 2017.
The convicts were charged among others for stealing, using public office for personal gains, and willfully causing financial loss to the state in respect of the purchase of the Pegasus hardware worth $4 million, which they said was to be used to fight terrorism.
According to the Auditor-General’s Report for 2018, the NCA bought the equipment at the request of National Security. From court reports, the hardware was delivered, but the software wasn’t.
Curiously, the facts of the purchase weren’t known until the former officials of the NCA were put before court.
In a July 2019 interview, Angela Quintal, the Africa Coordinator for Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), told ghanabusinessnews.com: “Given the documented use of NSO Group technology against journalists, any intention to acquire Pegasus spyware or similar surveillance systems is cause for concern.
“Ghanaian authorities’ failure to adequately prioritise press freedom and ensure accountability for attacks against journalists make these concerns all the more justified.”