March 29, 2012 (Front Page)
THE Accra Fast Track High Court on March 28, 2012 dismissed an application which prayed it to bar the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) from inviting a former Minister of State, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, to assist in investigations into the payment of GHC51.2 million to a businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
It also declined to stop the EOCO from investigating the role played by a former Deputy Minister of Education and Sports, Mr. O. B. Amoah in the award of contract for the construction of stadia for CAN 2008.
In effect, the EOCO can proceed with investigations into circumstances leading to the eventual payment of the controversial payment of GHC51.2 million to Woyome, who is currently standing trial for fraud.
Giving its ruling in applications for interlocutory injunction separately filed by the two personalities, the court, presided over by Mr. Justice Dennis Adjei, held that he would not allow himself to be swayed by his colleague judge, Mr Justice K. A. Ofori-Atta, who had earlier stopped the EOCO from investigating the former Chairman of the Local Organising Committee of the Local Organising Committee of CAN 2008, Mr Kofi Amoah.
In two separate but similar rulings, the court held that Mr. Osafo-Maafo and Mr. Amoah failed to convince the court on the likelihood of bias on the part of the EOCO.
According to the court, the court would be exercising its discretion in excess of its of its jurisdiction if it granted the plaintiffs request because they had not given any cause to prove that the EOCO was prejudiced.
It said it had carefully studied the applications for interlocutory injunction and had not seen any improper use of discretion on the part of the EOCO.
The court, however, directed the EOCO to inform the two former government functionaries in writing as to whether or not they were the proper individuals to be investigated as well as whether or not they were the proper persons to assist in investigations.
It also directed the EOCO to ensure that the applicants appeared before it in the company of their lawyers.
The court further directed the EOCO to ensure that the date and time the applicants were expected to report and testify were clearly spelt out to the applicants.
It also advised the EOCO to adhere to the rights of the applicants as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution and ensure that the applicants were treated fairly and without prejudice.
Mr Osafo-Maafo was present in court in the company of his wife, Anna but Mr. Amoah, who is also the Member of Parliament for Aburi/Nsawam was absent in court.
Mr. Osafo-Maafo filed an application for interlocutory injunction for an order to restrain the EOCO and its agents from continuing with investigations into the award and execution of contract for the construction of stadia for CAN 2008 pending the final determination of the suit.
According to the applicant, who said he received a letter dated January 5, 2012 and inviting him to assist in EOCO’s investigations, his suit had a great chance of success and unless EOCO was restrained by the court, he would suffer irreparable loss.
An affidavit in support of his application stated that EOCO’s continuous conduct of investigations into the matter was likely to prejudice a fair hearing and determination of the suit and in the process, occasion a miscarriage of justice.
The court, however, held a different view and declined to grant the reliefs sought by Mr Osafo-Maafo.
Mr. Osafo-Maafo has so far appeared before the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) of the Ghana Police Service and stated the circumstances under which he cancelled procurement processes in the award of contract for the construction of stadia for the CAN 2008.
According to him the cancellation saved the country millions of dollars.
In his substantive application, Mr Osafo-Maafo, who was also a former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said public utterances by the President, the Deputy Attorney-General and the EOCO clearly indicated bias and the likelihood that investigations would be prejudiced against him.
He is, therefore, praying the court to declare that the purported investigations being undertaken by the EOCO into what he termed suspected serious offences including fraud in the award and execution of contract for the construction of stadia for CAN 2008, and an invitation to him to assist in investigations were unlawful to the extent that they were issues raised in a report of the Auditor-General duly laid before Parliament.
The plaintiff is further praying the court to declare that the circumstances involving the payment of the colossal sum of GH58,095,974.13 to Mr Woyome and the acts and utterances of the President, the Deputy Attorney-General and the EOCO disables the EOCO from acting in a fair and reasonable manner.
He is, therefore, seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant from proceeding with the investigations into the so-called suspected serious offences including fraud in the award and execution of contract for the construction of stadia for CAN 2008 as well as other reliefs the court might deem fit.
A date is yet to be fixed for the hearing of the substantive matter.
On his part, Mr. Amoah had prayed the court to stop the EOCO from conducting investigations into suspected fraud in the award of contract for CAN 2008 stadia as well as the award and payment of judgement debt to Woyome.
He also prayed the court to restrain the EOCO from compelling him to assist in investigations.
The substantive reliefs he sought from the court were a declaration that EOCO had no statutory mandate in civil and commercial matters.
He also sought a declaration that the moves by the EOCO to investigate the matter was calculated to undermine and prejudice the outcome of the matter between the Attorney-General and Woyome at the Commercial Court in Accra.
Mr. Amoah has been granted GHC20 million police enquiry bail in connection with what is now known as Woyome saga.
He has denied corruption and causing financial loss to the state charges and explained that GHC75,000 allegedly paid to him by Woyome was in connection with purchase of land for mineral water project at his constituency.