The Minority Spokesperson on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu, has chastised the Attorney General’s Department, saying it is not doing enough to retrieve judgment debts wrongfully paid to businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
Earlier this month, the embattled Woyome stopped officials of the AG’s Department from valuing his property at Kpehe, as part of moves to offset part of the over Ghc51million paid to him. In the view of Mr. Woyome, the planned valuation was illegal.
But the Bewkai MP is of the view that there has been little commitment towards the retrieval of the monies wrongly paid to Woyome and others, hence this turn of events. “Last year, , the Attorney-General upon a question that I raised on the floor, came to give us the steps they were taking to recover not only the money paid to Woyome wrongly but others including Isofoton.
And she assured us that she will give us feedback within a year but she hasn’t come back yet
. I would like to know exactly what has been done because what we read in the newspapers are often short of full details.
But if that is all there is, then it does appear to me that we are not taking sufficient steps and we are not pursuing the matter as vigorously as a private person will pursue his or her money.” He noted that, “the wheels of justice grind slowly; but if the people pushing the wheels relax, it will grind even much slower.
There is also not sufficient information from government for us to know how the debtor Woyome is being dealt with in terms of getting his assets.”
Facts of the case
Alfred Woyome was paid ¢51 million for helping Ghana raise funds to construct stadia for purposes of hosting the CAN 2008 Nations Cup.
However an Auditor General’s report released in 2010 said the amount was paid illegally to the NDC financier. The report triggered nationwide controversy with critics accusing government of misappropriating funds.
Officials of the New Patriotic Party who were in government during the CAN 2008 tournament said Woyome did no work to be paid that whopping sum of money.
The then Attorney General Joe Ghartey said Woyome was contracted to help in raising money for the construction works but he failed to meet the deadline.
He said the NPP government had no choice than to abrogate the contract with Woyome. When the NPP left office in 2009, Alfred Woyome proceeded to court claiming his contract was illegally terminated and was demanding a judgment debt well over 2 million cedis.
The government failed to defend the state. Rather the then Attorney General under the late Mills administration Betty Mould Iddrisu is said to have negotiated with Woyome for him to reduce his demand on government.
He did and requested for 51 million cedis instead. The government went to court with a consent judgement. The court accepted and asked the AG to pay in three tranches of 17 million cedis to the plaintiff.
The court was however emphatic that only the first tranche be paid until after the trial. The court again asked Woyome to present an undertaking that in the event he loses he would refund the first tranche of 17 million cedis but if wins the state will pay the two other tranches left.
Betty Mould Iddrisu however decided to pay all the three tranches. Her Deputy Ebo Barton Oduro later publicly defended the payment to Woyome.
In 2010 Martin Amidu was appointed Attorney General to replace Betty Mould Iddrisu who was sent to the Education Ministry.
That appointment and revelations in the 2010 Audit report changed the dynamics of the Woyome scandal. Amidu had Woyome arrested and charged for causing financial loss to the state. Two others, including Nerquaye Tetteh, the chief state attorney were also arrested. Whilst prosecuting the case, Martin Amidu was sacked from government under mysterious circumstances with Marietta Brew Hammond appointed to take his place.
Martin Amidu however proceeded to the Supreme Court as a private citizen and managed to secure a judgement for the state to retrieve the millions of cedis paid illegally to Waterville.
But the judges stayed a verdict on the case Amidu brought before them because the matter was pending before the High Court. He later went on a review and had the court rule in his favour. Woyome was asked to refund the 51 million cedis to the state.