The Supreme Court yesterday threw out an application filed by embattled businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, which was intended to halt attempts by the state to retrieve the GH¢51.2 million he fraudulently received as judgement debt.
Lawyers for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) financier filed the application at the apex court to stay proceedings, as well as curtail efforts by the state to evaluate his properties until a determination of another related case being heard at the African Court on Human and People’s Rights in Arusha, Tanzania.
They argued that until the African Court had given its ruling, the decision of the Supreme Court would invariably affect the decision of the former – a position Deputy Attorney General Godfred Yeboah Dame vehemently opposed.
Even before a panel of five judges, presided over by Justice Jones Dotse could give its ruling, Woyome’s lawyer, Osafo Buabeng, had moved another motion which sought to arrest the ruling of the court based on the application to stay proceedings.
He argued that the African Court had directed the government to halt the seizure of Woyome’s properties and any other moves that could infringe on his rights, until it makes a final decision on the matter before it.
But Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame opposed the motion, saying that although Ghana is a signatory to the Treaty of the African Court, the protocol for the establishment of the court was not incorporated into the municipal laws of Ghana.
He said the decision of the African Court, therefore, could not be deemed as part of the municipal laws of Ghana which the Supreme Court is enjoined to uphold.
Although the African Court had ordered the government to halt the attempts to retrieve the money, it was short-lived as the judges decided to set aside the order.
In a unanimous decision, they dismissed the motion for lacking merit, legal or factual basis to arrest the judgement of the apex court.
On the substantive application seeking to halt attempts by the state to retrieve the money, as well as oral examination into Mr. Woyome’s sources of income, the court equally threw that out.
The panel of judges said the Attorney General is only carrying out its constitutional mandate in retrieving the money as imposed on it by the Constitution.
According to the judgment, the Supreme Court does not share its jurisdiction with any other court – be it national or international – and its decision is not affected by the directive of the African Court.
It is also the case of the panel of judges that Woyome and his lawyers failed to demonstrate how the court’s action was an infringement on his human rights.
Since presenting an excuse to the court saying he was ‘sick,’ Mr. Woyome has not attended any of the proceedings and was not in court when the five judges unanimously threw him out.
He was represented by his brother, Charles Amenyo.
Seizure Of Assets
The decision of the court to throw out the application gives the state the green light to continue to evaluate and seize more of Mr Woyome’s properties.
The state has already begun the process of evaluation and seizure, and five of the NDC financier’s properties, including those in Accra and the Volta Region, have been valued.
Mr Yeboah Dame earlier indicated that the state was leaving no stone unturned in identifying and seizing more of Mr. Woyome’s properties.
He said the day of reckoning would come when Woyome would eventually pay the money he fraudulently received
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.
Mr Dame told the media after the ruling that the Supreme Court had done what is needful because any contrary decision 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 noted.
Mr. Dame said he was surprised by the order by the African Court since government had no representation when the order was given.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak