BY MUNTALLA INUSAH firstname.lastname@example.org
A FIVE-MEMBER panel of Supreme Court justices has rejected an order by the African Court for Human and People’s RightS (ACHPR) asking Ghana government to stop its processes aimed at retrieving GH¢51.2 million paid to businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome as judgement debt pending its decision.
According to the decision by the panel, there is no factual and legal basis for Ghana’s Supreme Court to share its powers and jurisdiction with any other court, and so it cannot be compelled to halt the ongoing proceedings.
The court said it is not within its purview to direct or urge the government to enforce the orders by ACHPR, but that Woyome, if he so wishes, must direct his anger at the government as it is the government that has a treaty with the ACHPR.
In a unanimous decision, the five member-panel said Woyome’s application for stay of execution and proceedings had no merits and that its order that Woyome should pay the money must be obeyed. The court said any attempt to disobey it would constitute a high crime as stipulated by the 1992 Constitution.
Five wise men
The panel was chaired by Justice Jones Victor Dotse and supported by Justice Anin Yeboah, Mrs Justice Vida Akoto Bamfo, Justice Alfred Anthony Benin and Justice Yaw Appau.
Their ruling comes barely three days after the ACHPR ordered the government of Ghana to halt any move to retrieve the money until the determination of Woyome’s appeal.
The regional court based in Tanzania on November 24 ordered that the government should put on hold efforts to retrieve the money paid the businessman pending a determination of the substantive case he brought before the court.
“The court finds that the issue situation raised in the present application is of extreme gravity and urgency on the basis that should the applicant’s property be attached and sold to recover the GH¢51, 283, 480.59 the applicant would suffer irreparable harm if the application on the merits is decided in his favour [by the ACHPR]…” the 11-member panel said.
Arrest of ruling dismissed
In court yesterday, the panel of five was to rule on an earlier application by Mr Woyome on whether or not to stay proceedings pending the ACHPR ruling. But lawyers of the businessman led by Osafo Buabeng moved a fresh application praying the court to stop its ruling.
This brought to two the number of motions the court was to determine. While the first motion aimed to stay the proceedings, the second was to arrest the ruling of the court on the motion for stay of execution.
But the Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, who led a team from the AG’s office, opposed the application, saying the Treaty setting up the African Court even though had been ratified by Ghana’s Parliament, it had not been incorporated into Ghana’s laws.
Justice Yeboah, who delivered the decision of the Panel, said the businessman had failed to show any factual or legal basis for the court to hold on with its ruling.
According to the decision by the five-member panel of justices, there’s no real factual and legal basis for Ghana’s Supreme Court to share its powers and jurisdiction with any other court, and so it cannot be compelled to halt the ongoing proceedings.
Govt would chase Woyome
The Deputy Attorney-General told the press that government would not cease attaching properties of the businessman.
Mr Dame found the ruling by the African Court strange, as there was no opportunity by lawyers representing the state to present their side of the story prior to the ruling.
“The ruling of the African Court came as a surprise to us; there was no hearing whatsoever and there was no notification to us on proceedings…we think that something went amiss and something fishy occurred,” he stated.
Mr Woyome was paid the GHc 51 million after claiming he helped Ghana raise funds to construct stadia for the hosting of the 2008 African Cup of Nations.
However, an Auditor General’s report released in 2010 held that the amount was paid illegally to him. Subsequently, the Supreme Court in 2014 ordered Mr Woyome to pay back the money, after Martin Amidu, a private legal practitioner, challenged the legality of the payment.