February 14, 2012 (Front page)
THERE was spontaneous jubilation at the premises of the Fast Track High Court when a beleaguered businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, who is standing trial for defrauding the state to the tune of GHC51.2 million was granted bail.
The crowd, most of whom wore t-shirts with the inscription “Free Woyome – God rules in the affairs of men” had sang war songs amidst loud drumming a week earlier but today cheered and danced immediately news trickled in that Woyome had been granted bail in the sum of GHC54 million with two sureties, one to be justified.
Some women removed their clothes and laid them on the ground for Woyome to walk on when he was led out of the courtroom to a waiting vehicle with registration number UE 970 U.
Taking in and enjoying the royalty treatment, Woyome waved at the crowd who told him to be bold. He also shook hands with those who dared to force their way through the thick security which had surrounded him.
Armed policemen made it virtually impossible for photojournalists to take pictures of Woyome, who waved at the crowd. Woyome, from all indications did not mind being photographed but the armed men sandwiched him and covered his face anytime a photojournalist made an attempt to take pictures.
Inside the courtroom, Woyome, who is perceived to be a financier of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), nodded his head and kept a muted smile when a Chief State Attorney, Ms. Cynthia Lamptey, indicated that the prosecution was not opposed to bail for him and his alleged accomplices.
He is standing trial with a Chief State Attorney, Samuel Nerquaye-Tetteh, the Director of Legal Services at the MOFEP, Paul Asemani and Gifty Nerquaye-Tetteh, wife of Samuel Nerquaye-Tetteh into whose account Woyome deposited GHC400,000.
Woyome is alleged to have put in false claims to defraud the state to the tune of GHC51.2 million with the active connivance and assistance of Nerquaye-Tetteh and Asemani. The three were remanded on February 6, 2012 but were granted bail when they appeared before the court today.
Nerquaye-Tetteh and Asemani were granted bail in the sum of GHC6, 000 each with two sureties each and one each to be justified. The court, presided over by Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam, ordered each of the accused persons to report twice a week to the police.
The courtroom was as usual, packed to capacity with some lawyers and reporters up on their feet. Armed men attempted to drive away reporters who were monitoring proceedings from the corridors of the courtroom but changed their stance later.
Woyome and the other accused persons, who were brought in a convoy amidst motorcade were led to the courtroom at exactly 10:10 a.m.
Treated like a high profile personality by security men, Woyome smiled and waved at the cheering crowd.
Unlike the last adjourned date when he looked pensive and moody, Woyome looked calm, collected and kept a hidden smile when the state announced that it was not opposed to bail for him and his alleged accomplices.
Spotted in a light mauve long sleeved African shirt with black embroidery, Woyome smiled and interacted with his lawyers immediately the judge retired to his chambers.
The other accused persons were quietly whisked away into a different vehicle. The crowd did not notice them worse of all cheer them.
Earlier at the court’s sitting, lawyers for the accused persons prayed the court to grant bail to their clients under favourable conditions.
Woyome, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of conspiracy, defrauding by false pretence and corrupting a public officer. Samuel Nerquaye-Tetteh has also pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy and corruption of public officere. Nerquaye-Tetteh’s wife also pleaded not guilty to one count of abetment of crime.
Hearing continues on Monday, February 20, 2012.