Government says it is a surprising legal error that the Supreme Court granted a private citizen the opportunity to do a job exclusively reserved for the state.
Deputy Attorney-General Dr. Dominic Ayine said it is only the state that is empowered by Article 88 to take actions to retrieve state property.
The Article states among others that “The Attorney-General shall be responsible for the institution and conduct of all civil cases on behalf of the State; and all civil proceedings against the State shall be instituted against the Attorney-General as defendant”.
The property in this case is GHC51.2 million cedis that has taken more than 52 months to retrieve since a Supreme Court ordered in July 2014.
The NDC-led government was instructed to collect the money from an NDC financier and businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
After many elusive attempts, the state has only retrieved GHC4million. It went back to the Supreme Court to be granted an opportunity to orally examine Woyome to determine his assets.
But in October 2016, the state said it was no longer interested in the oral examination because Alfred Woyome had indicated a willingness to pay back the money.
Peeved by what he saw as a lackadaisical attitude of the state, the former Attorney-General who won the initial judgment for Woyome to cough up the cash went back to court.
His request to be given the opportunity to do the oral examination himself was granted. Justice Anin Yeboah said the state was not making any serious attempts to retrieve the money.
A November 24th showdown has been set for the oral examination.
But disagreeing with the judgment, the Deputy Justice minister said ‘it is only the AG that can take action with respect to state property’.
He said he was surprised that the Supreme Court judge would base his judgement on Article 2 which grants a citizen the right to bring any action to court to protect state property.
Dominic Ayine said this is a general right granted every citizen. But when it comes executing a court order to retrieve the money, it is the sole prerogative of the state.
“That ruling is an evidential, factual and legal error” he described the ruling. “Can Amidu strictly and properly speaking go into execution? he wondered.
The state resisted Martin Amidu because it was protecting the integrity of the legal system, he defended the state.
Dominic Ayine stressed that even after the oral examination, Amidu cannot go around seizing Woyome’s assets. It is the state that has to do that, he said.
“So what will be the purpose of the oral examination?” the deputy minister assessed the value of Amidu’s victory. He said the state would wait to see what comes out of the interrogation. ‘Amidu will have his day in court’, he said.