Alfred Agbesi Woyome

THE LEGAL tussle between the Attorney-General and Alfred Agbesi Woyome over the refund of GH¢51.2milion paid to him as judgment debt has begun at an Accra Commercial Court.

Cecil Adadevor, a senior state attorney, yesterday, moved his motion to seek leave of the court to amend a writ filed by the Attorney-General (AG) to challenge the payment made to Woyome, the alleged NDC bankroller.

After Mr. Adadevor and Dora Oquaye Nortey, counsel for Woyome, had argued the motion, the trial judge, Barbara Ackah-Yensu, adjourned the case to March 8, 2012 for ruling.

Mr. Adadevor, who observed that the AG could not appeal against the  consent judgment but could only apply for it to be set aside, told the court that his motion sought to raise real questions between the two parties.

According to him, although the facts had not changed, there was a new development that had arisen from the facts which he needed to draw the court’s attention to.

Counsel, who based his argument on two issues, being allegation of fraud against Woyome, as well as a breach of the constitution by the former government concerning the contract awarded to Waterville/Vamed, prayed the court to, in fairness, allow him to particularize those issues, especially the fraud aspect.

On the issue of fraud, Mr. Adadevor said he would need to plead it for Woyome to respond then evidence could be taken for determination by the court. 

He observed that if indeed the court found issues of fraud then it would have to set aside the consent judgment, with an order for GH¢51.2million to be refunded to the state.

Arguing on the constitutional aspect of the matter, he said he discovered that the contracts dated April 26, 2006 between the government and Waterville/Vamed constituted an international business transaction in accordance with Article 181 (5) of the Constitution but they were not laid before Parliament for approval.

He indicated that in the absence of Parliamentary approval, the transaction itself was null and void. These two major issues were what he wanted to bring to the court’s attention so it could set aside the judgment.

Before Ms Oquaye Nortey responded to the motion, the trial judge, who observed that she had only addressed the issue of fraud in her affidavit in opposition, asked her to respond to the issue of constitutionality as she (judge) did not want to exceed her jurisdiction in ruling on the matter.

According to Ms Nortey, she had no objection to the court allowing the AG to amend the writ in respect of fraud allegations since she agreed that fraud was a serious issue which the court needed to go into for justice to prevail.

She however opposed all other reliefs such as issues bordering on constitutionality as they would re-open the case which had been dealt with already.

According to her, the judgment which the AG sought to attack arose from a mutual consent between the two parties as they negotiated the terms of settlement, resulting in the amount paid to Woyome. Therefore, it was wrong for the AG to have alone taken the decision to set it aside.

On the issue of the constitutionality of the contract, Nortey said Waterville/Vamed was not a party to the suit in court. She reminded the court that the case was between Government and Woyome and so if the said contract did not meet the requirement, this was not the right forum for the state to address that.

The move to amend the writ was initiated by former Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, Martin Amidu, who was sacked by the President a few days after challenging the legality of Woyome’s claims.

In the amended writ, Mr Amidu described as fraudulent the money paid to Woyome and disclosed that the NDC bankroller deliberately defrauded the state with his claim, knowing fully well that he had no contract with the state.

According to the writ, the state had now discovered new and more documents and information from diverse sources involved in the transaction between Government of Ghana and Waterville that disclosed that the claims by the defendant (Woyome) were fraudulent.

The AG explained that “the then Government, per a letter dated 4th May, 2005, signed by a Deputy Finance Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, had stated that the Government did not take responsibility and was not liable for any transaction entered into by the defendant and that the defendant’s role in the transaction did not create any legal relations with the Government of Ghana whatsoever.”

However, when there was a change of government, Woyome, who knew the contents and the disclaimer in the said letter, allegedly colluded with Waterville, a company registered and resident in the United Kingdom, to write to the AG’s office, supporting the claim when they both knew that he (Woyome) did not have any claims against the government.

The A-G said based on the misrepresentations by Woyome, government accepted liability to pay the claim of 2% for  financial engineering for breach of contract in the renovation of three stadia in Accra and Kumasi for the hosting of the CAN 2008 African Cup of Nations tournament.

Following this misrepresentation, an Accra Commercial Court awarded the sum to him after the AG’s Ministry, under Betty Mould-Iddrisu, had admitted that Woyome deserved the said amount.

The A-G is now praying the court to make an order for the refund of the money which, according to the writ, was mistakenly paid to Woyome in several instalments.

By Mary Anane

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