Beleaguered brother of former President John Dramani Mahama, Ibrahim Mahama, has claimed he entered into an agreement with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to stagger the payment of his workers pension contributions.
He said the negotiated agreement was reached with SSNIT on December 22, 2016, and accused the Trust of stabbing him in the back by turning around to prosecute him over the non-payment of the contributions of his workers.
The supposed agreement was said to have been reached at a time his brother’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) government had lost power to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and was on its way out of office.
Ibrahim and his company, Engineers and Planners Limited (E&P), together with Kwadwo Aboagye-Attah (Director), Sulemana Ahmed Amidu (Executive Director) and Sidney Audrey Steyn (Managing Director) are appearing before a district court in Accra over GH¢1 million contributions of staff of the company supposed to have been paid to SSNIT.
The demand notice prepared by SSNIT to Ibrahim and others on March 1, 2017 showed that the total contribution E&P should have paid was GH¢1,601,051.78 with a penalty of GH¢1,322,161.45.
The notice also put the total indebtedness at GH¢2,723,213.32 with GH¢200,000.00 as less payment.
However, Ibrahim is insisting that the company has settled in full the outstanding amount owed SSNIT.
DAILY GUIDE learnt following the writ of summons that has caused him to appear in court on Saturday, Ibrahim quickly rushed to the Kokomlemle office of SSNIT on Friday to settle his debt, which had been hanging for several months.
Sources said he was to be prosecuted for the non-payment of his workers’ contributions but the managers of the Trust at the time allegedly stopped the prosecutors from doing their job.
Even before the commencement of the court action by SSNIT, Ibrahim is also being investigated by the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) over alleged issuance of 44 dud cheques in the name of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
He was given two weeks to clear the unpaid duties to the GRA.
A statement titled, ‘E&P has settled SSNIT Contributions’ issued by Rafik Rufai, an associate of Ibrahim stated, “On 22nd December, 2016, SSNIT entered into a negotiated agreement with Engineers and Planners, as it does with all clients, for the payment of arrears of social security contributions of GH¢1,601,051.78.”
According to the statement, per the terms of the agreement, E&P was required to make 12 monthly installments, commencing February 2017 and ending in January 2018, adding, “As at 28th April 2017, E&P had made a total payment of over GH¢2 million (GH¢2,723,212.36) in full satisfaction of all outstanding arrears and penalties.”
Two Days’ Delay
Rafik Rufai said, “JUST TWO DAYS DELAYED PAYMENT – On March 2, 2017, SSNIT wrote to E&P to serve notice that it had abrogated the negotiated agreement due to the failure of the company to make the installment payment for February 2017, as a result of two days of delay in paying the first installment.”
Ibrahim’s associate said that “E&P informed SSNIT that it had made efforts to make the payments for February as agreed but for unexpected delays in their receivables on current contracts and convincingly committed to paying. A promise it has fulfilled,” adding “E&P further made a request for SSNIT to reconsider its decision to abrogate the negotiated agreement. SSNIT declined the request.”
According to the associate, “Instead, on 13th April, 2017, a summons was issued to E&P to appear before the District Court on 29th April, 2017 to answer a complaint of failing to pay SSNIT contributions of GH¢668,754.75 and penalty of GH¢387,709.31 totaling GH¢1,056,464.06.
“Once again, it is worth noting that E&P has paid over GH¢2 million (GH¢2,723,212.36) in full satisfaction of all outstanding arrears and penalties.”
He added that “counsel for Engineers and Planners has informed the court that the company has fully paid off the outstanding amounts due SSNIT.”
It is the contention of the prosecutor, Leena Adomah Boakye, that Ibrahim and his co-accused, from February to July 2015, June to August 2016 and October 2016, failed to pay to the Trust the Social Security contributions to the tune of GH¢668,754.75.
The four are facing an additional charge of failure to pay penalty of GH¢387,709.31 on the said contributions.
Ibrahim was not in court last Saturday but Sulemana Ahmed Amidu, who was the only accused person to make an appearance, denied the charges and was granted a self-recognizance bail of GH¢10,000 by Ms Afua Gyakyiwaa Sackey, the presiding judge.
During the proceedings, the defence team, led by Ms Nancy Amartefio, apologized for the absence of Ibrahim and the other accused persons.
The team confirmed to the court that the company had settled in full the outstanding amount owed the Trust; and the case was adjourned until May 13, 2017.
As required by the National Pensions Act, 2008 (Act 766), the employer is expected to pay social security on behalf of the employees at the end of every month.
By William Yaw Owusu