Former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, who is now the Lead Counsel for the third respondent in the ongoing election petition case, says his life hung on a thin string the very day he was thrown into jail after he was found guilty of causing financial loss to the state in 2008. He has therefore described his release as a ?miracle?.

On June 18 that year, an Accra Fast Track High Court presided over by Justice Henrietta Abban, sentenced Mr Tsikata to a 5-year jail term for willfully causing financial loss to the state and misapplying public funds. He was sentenced on each count, to run concurrently. The court found him guilty on all the counts of causing financial loss of about Gh ?230,000 to the state through a loan he, acting on behalf of the GNPC, guaranteed for Valley Farms Limited, a private cocoa producing company in 1991, and also for misapplying public funds. Valley Farms contracted the loan from Caisse Centrale, now Agence Francaise de Development in 1991, but defaulted in payment thus, compelling GNPC, which acted as guarantors, to pay the loan in 1996 Tsikata pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was on bail.


According to the judge, it had been the prosecution?s case that the law setting up the GNPC specified areas in which the Corporation could invest. She was of the view that the processing of cocoa could not lead to the production of oil. She pointed out that the prosecution had proved their case beyond reasonable doubt that Tsikata was culpable for the offences he had been charged with. The case started in 2002 and at a point in time, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fast Track Court trying the case was unconstitutional.

This was after Tsikata had challenged its constitutionality. The decision was however, overturned later in a judicial review. Exactly five years on, Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata has written in a reflective piece titled: ?Five years on ?His mercies never fail?, that his release from the Nsawam prison after serving less than six months of his five year sentence, was a ?miracle?. He wrote: ?Five years ago, on June 18, 2008, a judge, without any advance indication that she was going to deliver judgment, pronounced a sentence of five years imprisonment on me. I was taken that afternoon to the Nsawam Medium Security Prison to begin serving my sentence. Within five months of that day, however, I was out of prison and alive in circumstances that were nothing short of a miracle?. He said: ?I continue to thank God for that miracle.

The night of November 15, 2008, after the doors of the cell which I shared with 10 others had been locked, I had an asthmatic attack, probably the worst in my life ?I have been asthmatic from about age four. I could hardly breathe?. ?In that state it was not possible to lie down to sleep. I sat on a chair by my bed, breaking out into a sweat. The cell leader, Yaw, and one other cellmate, noticed there was something wrong. Each wanted to help. Could they fan me, for instance, seeing me sweating? Could they help in any way? I told them I would be okay. I was conscious that my condition would rather be worsened by any whipping up of alarm and anxiety around me. Only the grace of God kept me through those hours of the night of Saturday, November 15, 2008?



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