– Woyome Saga
…Says ‘Oral examination of Woyome is a waste of time, abuse of human right’
The Supreme Court’s clearance for businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, to be orally examined on how he supposedly spent the GHc51million judgment debt that a court had awarded him as default judgment in 2010, has come across as a fanciful waste of time.
The Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) has also denounced the examination as an egregious upset of a sub judice case by an unholy collaboration between the Attorney General’s Department and the Supreme Court.
The Attorney General’s oral examination of Woyome, started this Monday, was in spite of the fact that the businessman had arranged a payment plan in November 2016, to repay the money back to the state.
Indeed, former Attorney General, Marietta Brew Appiah Oppong, had in November 2016 rescinded an earlier decision to orally examine Mr. Woyome because the lawyers of Mr. Woyome had written to the AG proposing a payment plan.
By a letter dated November 8, 2016, the Attorney General’s Department had been notified of the plan to repay the money by quarterly installments, with a 7th November, 2016 letter, signed by Chief State Attorney, Dorothy Afriyie-Ansah, in acknowledgement of the receipt of GHc4million as first installment of the repayment arrangement.
It therefore came as a surprise to many observers when the same Attorney General’s Department, which had agreed to the repayment plan in November 2016, started the motions to orally examine Mr. Woyome on how he spent the money.
People have wondered if the hurry by the Akufo-Addo government to harass Mr. Woyome, in spite of the standing agreement between the state and himself, is not as a result of a desperate attempt by the ruling NPP to deliver on populist campaign promise to recover the money in spite of all the legal entanglements.
On Monday, this week, the Supreme Court ordered Mr. Woyome to make available documents covering a house that the Attorney General seems to be trying to impound in the cause to recover the money to the state.
In what is seen as a persecution, the court, presided over by Justice Anthony Alfred Benin, ordered the subpoena of the head of the Lands Commission to appear in court with land documents covering the house in question which Mr. Woyome says belongs to a brother of his in the US.
Sickly, Mr. Woyome had been grilled for close to two hours, and at a point was forced to take his medicine while in the dock.
Interestingly, the prosecution is in spite of the fact that in addition to the repayment arrangement with the AG’s Department, Mr. Woyome has sued GoG over the same money paid him at both the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the USA and the African Human Rights Court in Arusha, Tanzania.
As both cases are in connection with the judgment, it is said that the continued prosecution of Woyome over the same issue, is tantamount to a vandalism of a sub judice case.
In both cases, Woyome is seeking major reliefs and declarations, including compensation for human rights abuses, defamation and abuse of judicial/legal powers and a declaration that the purported violation of sub judice by the Supreme Court of Ghana is an illegality.
Yesterday, ASEPA issued a statement in Accra condemning the development, saying it is tantamount to an abuse of the fundamental human rights of a citizen of Ghana.
“This is a very delicate case that has a lot of legal and perception implications for the highest court of the land and so you will expect that the Attorney General’s Department will follow due processes and accordingly uphold the fundamental human rights of the judgement debtor who in this case is a full Ghanaian citizen by birth.”
The statement, which was signed by Executive Secretary, Mensah Thompson, and copied to the Chief Justice and the AG, also warned that the purported persecution of Mr. Woyome could, in the long run, turn out to be a banana peel for Ghana.
“We caution the AG to be mindful of the implications of his actions and his pursuits as far as this case is concerned as he may end up costing the state huge sums of money in terms of compensation to Alfred Woyome if it is established at ICC and AHRC that his actions constitute an illegality and an abuse on the rights of Mr. Woyome.”
ASEPA said it was worried that even though the oral examination of Woyome was ostensibly to establish avenues for the state to recover the judgment debt paid him, the posturing of Deputy AG, Godfred Dame, rather suggested political point-scoring.
It said that it found it boastful and unwholesome that the Supreme Court would allow itself to be used as a platform to perpetrate an abuse that could turn out boomerang.
“What we find more dangerous and boastful of our Supreme Court is the continuance of a case that is concurrently being tried in two separate superior courts outside our jurisdiction.
“Granted the merits of these claims are established by these two superior courts which have subsequently served the AG in Ghana and asked them to respond to some queries then there would be no point reclaiming the monies until the facts before them are already established.”
It reminded that in spite of the seeming machinations, Mr. Woyome is plodding on in the quest for justice and this could in the end prove tricky for the whole state, as the businessman has asked for serious declarations that could lead to Ghana being forced to cough up huge sums of money to Mr. Woyome in the end.
In 2010, Mr. Woyome was paid the GHc51 million after he had helped Ghana raise funds to construct stadia for the hosting of the 2008 African Cup of Nations.
However, an Auditor General’s report released in 2010 held that the amount was paid illegally to him.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court in 2014 ordered Mr. Woyome to pay back the money, after a former Attorney General, Martin Amidu, challenged the legality of the payments.
Following delays in retrieving the money, Supreme Court judges unanimously granted the Attorney-General clearance to execute the court’s judgment, ordering Mr. Woyome to refund the cash to the state.
Eventually, Mr. Woyome arranged with the AG’s Department to repay the money in quarterly installments in November 2016.
There had been previous attempts to orally examine Mr. Woyome with Mr. Amidu himself, in 2016, filing an application at the Supreme Court to ask how Woyome was going to pay back the money, after the Attorney General’s office, under the Mahama administration, led by the former Minister for Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, discontinued a similar application.
Mrs. Appiah Oppong had explained that the discontinuation of the application was due to the fact that Woyome had proposed to repay the money in quarterly installments.
In February 2017, however, Mr. Amidu withdrew his suit seeking an oral examination, explaining that the change of government and the assurance by the new Attorney General to retrieve all judgment debts wrongfully paid to individuals, had given him renewed confidence in the system.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Fiifi Samuels