By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ghanaians know the extent to which public office holders can manipulate the state apparatus as they siphon off funds from the national coffers for personal gains. This manipulation seems to be the fait accompli that almost everyone condemns but isn’t prepared to fight against.

The whopping compensation paid to Alfred Agbesi Woyome, a businessman and major financier of the NDC, stands tall as the worst form of thievery to have been perpetrated in recent times. It is so because of its sophistication—being perpetrated through the ambit of the courts and presented as the outcome of his following the due process of law to seek redress.

And to imagine that this Woyome can hold a press conference to portray himself as a saint in this matter is nauseating, to say the least. Again, to imagine that the government isn’t able to take any drastic action to assure Ghanaians that it is capable of handling this matter to its convincing conclusion worsens the case. Is there anybody with any clean conscience left in this country of ours?

If there is anybody with any clean conscience left in the leadership of Ghana, let that person take immediate action to right the wrong that this Woyome case has wrought on the country. Righting that wrong means retrieving that money from Woyome and prosecuting all those connected with this fraud. Had we people of clean conscience in authority, they would have by now helped to bring an acceptable closure to this case. But there is none to boast of.

There is no justification for Woyome to be paid that huge sum of money as compensation for no work done for the country but just because some people could take undue advantage of the loopholes in the system. This judgement debt payment is an insult to the hardworking people whose toil, blood, and sweat feeds the national coffers!

We have before us a complicated web of thievery—at least, if we consider the fact that the matter for which Woyome was compensated itself is mired in inexplicable instances of deception. Woyome claimed he represented a company whose contract with the Kufuor government was unilaterally abrogated and that it lost revenue as a result.

Then, Woyome went to court to seek redress. The government’s legal arm (Attorney-General’s Office) failed to pursue the matter in defence of the country (not the government) and the court determined the case in Woyome’s favour to warrant that payment.

Was there any contract with the Kufuor government? Why did the government’s side abandon the case? Because Barton-Oduro, Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, said the government realized the case against it was “bad” and thought it better not to pursue it. A grand theft perpetrated! As to who benefited from this payment, no one needs any magic to know that kickbacks would definitely fly in all directions.

This matter is troubling because it suggests that corruption is being taken to a different level to become a whole new dangerous game. I suspect strongly some form of complicity between Woyome and the Attorney-General’s office in devising this sophisticated plan to catalyze the fraud. The triangle of sophisticated thievery is clear: Woyome+Attorney-General’s Office+the court.

It was a plot hatched by Woyome and sold to the Attorney-General’s Office to be blessed by the court that determined the case in his favour. That’s what the Mills government must look into if it wants to prove to Ghanaians that it is a capable custodian and must have its mandate retained at Election 2012.

Former President Kufuor has added more fuel to the fire. According to him, Woyome had no right to claim any money from this government or any other government of this country because he had no contract with the state. He questioned why the Attorney-General decided to authorize the payment of such a whopping sum of money without defending the state to the letter (Myjoyonline, Feb. 1, 2012).

Very good observations, Mr. Kufuor. By making this claim, he has shifted the burden to the NDC government. Where is the evidence that the case was a “bad” one not to be pursued?

Kufuor’s claim is strong enough to arouse anger in every Ghanaian at this fraudulent judgement debt payment to Woyome. Even before any official action is taken to bring closure to this case, Ghanaians need to know that something terrible went wrong in the handling of their tax money.

Although Woyome was not the only person to have benefited from this court-sanctioned payment of the 640 million judgement debt over the past few years, his particular case is worrisome. It leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth and makes me wonder whether anybody in authority in Ghana has anymore conscience at all.

Here is why the government seems to be losing ground. Kufuor and Martin Amidu (the former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General) claim that Woyome wasn’t awarded any contract, contrary to what motivated his court action to be paid that huge sum of money. Is there no documentary evidence or any other material to inform the Mills-led government about what Kufuor and Amidu have said for it to either agree with them or not? If there is any way to cross-check their claim, why not go ahead to use it so that Ghanaians will know who is telling the truth or hiding behind a smokescreen to fleece the national coffers?

Unlike other happenings that have vaporized and done little harm to the government’s political fortunes, this Woyome one will definitely prove to be too hot to handle for a long time. It will drag on to Election 2012 because it is particularly filthy. It will not be the usual “ehuro a, ebe dwo” (The steam will after all down down); and the government had better brace up for the dart.

We have read the letters exchanged by the Minister of Finance and Betty Mould-Iddrissu concerning this transaction. At this point, we are highly stupefied by the circumstances surrounding this judgement debt payment.  We have heard too much about this case and won’t wait for any more foot-dragging or damage control to irritate us all the more. We will conclude that we have entrusted our destiny and the management of our country’s affairs to deadwoods constituting our leadership.

The deadwoods in this government and those refusing to appear before the Economic and Organized Crimes Office (EOCO) have confirmed our long-held apprehensions that our country’s problems will not be solved soon to uplift living standards. These deadwood materials can’t help us develop our country. They have no conscience or expertise to do so. All they have to recommend them is their empty but harmful political rhetoric and skillfulness in the art of stealing public property (money and material goods). Let them prove me wrong.

I will take issues with these deadwoods in the previous government whose dealings with Woyome generated this fraud and those in the current government whose complicity expedited action to consummate it.

Let none of them (especially those in the Mill-sled government) attempt deceiving us that the matter is being investigated by the EOCO and CHRAJ. These institutions are as rotten as the deadwoods who are using them to massage public feelings.

While those in the NPP invited to assist in the investigation by the EOCO have refused to do so, is there any assurance that the matter is being investigated at all for Ghanaians to know what went wrong? Or does the refusal of the NPP functionaries to heed EOCO’s investigation paralyze the EOCO itself?

To be continued….

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