Government’s official white paper report of the judgement debt commission has blamed the Attorney General’s Department and the trial court for failing to prevent the unlawful payment of controversial GHC 51 million judgment debt to businessman Alfred Agebsi Woyone.
The Commission in the 107- page- document noted that the then Attorney General, Betty Mould Iddrisu going by Alfred Agbesi Woyome’s own pleaded case, was “ignorant …but nevertheless went ahead to negotiate and finally ordered for such payment to be made without any scrutiny of his claim and due diligence.”
It further revealed that the “trial court seriously erred when it granted a default judgment that was procedurally flawed in many aspects.”It described the “default judgment” as a complete “nullity due to the procedural irregularities that completely destroyed its foundation.”
The plaintiff had no mandate under the rules of court to amend his writ of summons twice without leave before pleadings were closed. Order 16 Rule 1(1) gives the plaintiff only one opportunity. He amended his writ of summons twice without leave but the trial court either failed to scrutinize the records before the granting the application or turned a blind eye”
- When the plaintiff amended the endorsement on his writ of summons to change completely his cedi claim to a Euro claim with other reliefs, he did not amend his original statement of claim to correspond to the new claim which was completely different from the original claim.
- At the time plaintiff filed the motion for default judgment in default of defence, the defendants had not been served with any Statement of Claim as required under the Rules of Court in support of the amended Writ of Summons to which they could respond by way of a statement of defence.
- On 14th May 2010, just seven (7) days after the service of the amended writ of summons on the 1st defendant, plaintiff caused a motion for judgment in default of defence to be filed. This was contrary to Order 16 Rule 3(2)(b), which provides for a period of fourteen (14) days after the service of an amended statement of claim on the defendant.
The document further spelt out other factors that contributed to the unlawful payment and these are below:
- Though the parties in the action filed a supposed Terms of Settlement intending it to be adopted as a consent judgment, the State, before the date slated for the adoption of the said terms, had declared its intention not to go by the terms anymore since it had realised it had a defence to the action. That conduct alone served as a caveat to the trial court in treating the terms as Consent Judgment since it had been robbed of its consensual content. The trial court regrettably forced a Consent Judgment on the State. What the trial court described as a “Consent Judgment” was therefore not a Consent Judgment properly so-called. It was a judgment forced on the State by the trial court, which makes it a complete nullity.
- There was no basis for the payment of the sum of over GHȻ51 million to Alfred Agbesi Woyome. This is because he was not entitled to any such payment as the EOCO rightly found and stated in its interim report.
- The trial court should have set aside the default judgment it had wrongly entered against the State and allowed the Attorney-General to defend the action as she intimated. The failure of the trial High Court to do so led to the wrong payment of the huge sum of over GHȻ51 million to Alfred Agbesi Woyome who did not deserve it in the least. vi. The payment to Alfred Agbesi Woyome was inordinate and at the same time fraudulent. It therefore constituted a huge financial loss to the State.
The Sole Commission however recommended “that in line with the review decision of the Supreme Court, the State must take all necessary steps to re-call the money paid to Alfred Agbesi Woyome from him with interest.”
Woyome was paid the sum as judgment debt for allegedly rendering services to the state during preparations towards hosting the African Cup of Nations in Ghana in 2008.