Government has welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling rejecting an order by the African Court of Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) in Tanzania, in the case involving the retrieval of the Ghc51.2 million judgment debt wrongfully paid to businessman, Alfred Woyome.
The African Court on November 24, 2017, ordered Ghana to suspend all efforts to retrieve the money until it determines an appeal filed by Woyome, who argued that his human rights are being abused by Ghana’s Supreme Court.
But the five-member panel of Justices at the Supreme Court in making a determination on a similar application filed by Woyome for stay of proceedings pending the final outcome of the case before the African Court, argued that there was no real factual and legal basis for the Supreme Court to share its powers and jurisdiction with any other court, and so it cannot be compelled to halt the ongoing proceedings.
The Supreme Court thus dismissed Mr. Woyome’s application for stay of proceedings, pending the final outcome of the case before the African Court, describing it as one without merit.
Speaking to the media after the ruling, a Deputy Attorney General, Godfred Dame, said the Supreme Court has done what is needful because any contrary decision would have would have promoted “discrimination.”
“If indeed this ruling [The ruling of the African Court] is made to stand, then it means it is promoting discrimination,” he added.
Mr. Dame said he was surprised by the order by the African Court since government had no representation when the order was given.
“…The ruling of the African Court came as a surprise to us…there was no hearing or notification to us on the proceeding. All that had been done was a motion filed by them and we had also filed our affidavit in opposition, and then there were no further representations whatsoever. So it actually came out of the blue and even when you look at the ruling, it is indicated that they were represented and we were not represented. So how come they were represented and we were represented? We think that something went amiss, something fishy occurred, but of course we’ve crossed the barrier, the Supreme Court has done what is needed and we are really satisfied,” he added.
Ghana has not incorporated African court treaty
On the implications of rejecting the African Court’s order, Mr. Dame explained that, although Ghana’s Parliament has ratified the protocol setting up the African Court, it has not been incorporated into the country’s laws hence Ghana was not bound to obey the order.
“As the court indicated, and I indicated in my submission also, it is the constitution of the Republic of Ghana that is paramount. The government of Ghana is required to comply with laws set out in article 11, and on top of that law, is the constitution of Ghana. And in the same constitution it makes the Supreme Court solely and exclusively responsible for the adjudication of constitutional matters. So that, sole and exclusive duties of the Supreme Court on constitutional matters are not shared with any court whether local or foreign. And the same constitution in article 2 clause 3 and 4, also directs that any decision and order of the Supreme Court must be duly obeyed and carried out.”
“Even the African Court of Human Rights itself, the protocol for the establishment of the court must have been specifically incorporated into the domestic laws of Ghana, and processes will require an act of Parliament…but this is non-existent,” Mr. Dame explained.
He also rejected claims that the decision by Ghana’s Supreme Court will mar the country’s relations on the African stage.
Genesis of Woyome’s woes
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 payments.
Following delays in retrieving the money, Supreme Court judges unanimously granted the Attorney General clearance to execute the court’s judgment, ordering Mr. Woyome to refund the cash to the state.
There had been previous attempts to orally examine Mr. Woyome, with Mr. Amidu himself, in 2016, filing an application at the Supreme Court to find out how the businessman was going to pay back the money.
This came after the Attorney General’s office under the Mahama Administration, led by the former Minister for Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, discontinued a similar application.
In February 2017 however, Mr. Amidu withdrew his suit seeking an oral examination, explaining that the change of government and the assurance by the new Attorney General to retrieve all judgment debts wrongfully paid to individuals, had given him renewed confidence in the system.
Woyome runs to African court after ICC rejection
Alfred Agbesie Woyome proceeded to the African Human Rights Court in August 2017, when the government began a valuation of his properties in an attempt to retrieve Ghc51 million wrongfully paid to him in a judgement debt.
The application at the ACHPR in August 2017, was in response to the Supreme Court’s judgement on July 29, 2014 that ordered him to pay the GH₵51.2 million on the grounds that he got the money out of unconstitutional and invalid contracts between the state and Waterville Holdings Limited in 2006 for the construction of stadia for CAN 2008.
This was after a similar case he filed at the International Chamber of Commerce had been dismissed.
He alleged in his application that Ghana did not respect the terms of the agreement that governed the financial engineering role he played in the transaction, and as such his rights and freedoms recognized under the ACHPR Charter had been violated.
He prayed the ACHPR to halt all processes seeking to execute the Supreme Court’s July 29, 2014 judgement, until his case was determined by the ACHPR.
By: Godwin Akweiteh Allotey/citifmonline.com/Ghana