Supreme Court throws out suit against Woyome

The Supreme Court has thrown out a suit filed by one Abdulai Yusif Fanash Muhammed with which he prayed the highest court of the land to reverse its own ruling which ordered businessman Alfred Woyome to refund to the state GHS51.2 million paid him a few years ago as judgment debt, after an alleged contract he claimed he had with the State was illegally terminated.

The Court described the suit as “frivolous” compelling the applicant to withdraw the case.

Mr Woyome was paid the GHS51.2 million after he sued the state in connection with the breach of the alleged contract to build four stadia ahead of the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana. In connection with the termination of the same alleged contract, foreign construction firm, Waterville Holdings BVI, was also paid €25 million.

In the Waterville case, the Supreme Court, on June 14, 2013, declared as null and void, and of no operative effect, the contract between the firm and the Government of Ghana titled: “Contract for the Rehabilitation (Design, Construction, Fixtures, Fittings and Equipment) of a 40,000 Seating Capacity Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, Ghana” entered into between the Republic of Ghana and Waterville Holdings Limited (BVI), of P.O. Box 3444, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands on April 26, 2006.

The ruling was premised on the basis that the alleged contract, which was the ground for the payment of the judgment debt to Waterville, following its alleged illegal termination, contravened Article 181 (5) of the 1992 Constitution, which required such contracts to go to Parliament for approval. The same court ruled that Mr Woyome did not merit the GHS51.2 million based on similar grounds.

Mr Woyome promised to refund the money by the end of 2015. In March last year, his lead counsel, Sarfo Boabeng, told the nine-member Supreme Court panel that heard the AG’s application for the retrieval of the money that his client had already resolved to make the payment at the end of 2015.

Mr Woyome’s accounts and assets were frozen about three years ago after he was arrested and charged for causing financial loss to the State, as well as defrauding by false pretence, with regards to the payment made to him between 2009 and 2010 under Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu and Mr Ebo Barton-Odro, as Attorney General and Deputy, respectively.

However, he was acquitted and discharged by a High Court on two counts of defrauding by false pretence and causing financial loss to the state.

According to the presiding judge, John Ajet-Nasam – who is one of 34 judges being investigated by the Chief Justice for corruption and who was recently removed from the judiciary on the orders of President John Mahama after investigations regarding his bribery conduct found him to have sullied his office – the prosecutors failed to prove Mr. Woyome fraudulently obtained the GHS51.2 million.

Justice Ajet-Nasam also indicted the prosecution for failing to call Mrs Mould-Iddrisu, Mr Rex Magnus Danquah, Mr Barton-Odro, Mr Paul Asimenu, Mr Samuel Nerquaye-Tetteh and others – who had all given written opinions that Mr Woyome was entitled to the money – as witnesses.

Subsequently, a civil suit on the same case by Mr Amidu resulted in the apex court ruling that Mr Woyome, as well as Waterville, did not merit the payment for the work they allegedly did for the State ahead of Ghana’s hosting of CAN 2008, since he had no parliamentary approval for the contract that covered that endeavour.

Anti-corruption crusader Mr Martin Amidu recently filed a suit at the Supreme Court praying the highest court of the land to throw out Fanash Muhammed’s suit, with which he wanted the earlier ruling overturned.

The Hohoe resident sued Mr Amidu, the Attorney General, and Mr Woyome for a declaration that “the financial engineering claims by Alfred Agbesi Woyome arising out of the tender bid by Vamed Engineering GmbH/Waterville Holdings during the procurement process from June 2005 until its wrongful abrogation in August 2005, is not an international business transaction within the meaning of Article 181 of the Constitution, 1992,” for which reason parliamentary endorsement would have been necessary.

President John Mahama told journalists at the Flagstaff House on January 12 that Abdulai Muhammed’s action frustrated processes by the AG to retrieve the money from Mr Woyome.

The latest ruling by the Supreme Court paves the way for the Attorney General and Minister of Justice start processes towards confiscating Mr Woyome’s assets and auctioning them off to defray the cost.

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