March 21, 2012 (Page 3 Lead)
THE Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) has suspended investigations into circumstances leading to the payment of of GHC51.2 million to a businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, until the final determination of a suit brought against it by a former Minister of Education and Sports, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo.
Lawyer for the EOCO, Dr. Philip Anderson said told the Accra Fast Track High Court today that his client had suspended investigations until the court rules on whether or not to restrain the EOCO from continuing with investigations into what is now known as Woyomegate scandal.
Mr Osafo-Maafo dragged the EOCO to the Fast Track High Court challenging EOCO’s decision to invite him to testify in investigations into payment of GHC51.2 million to Woyome.
According to Mr Osafo-Maafo, who was once a Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, 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.
The court, presided over by Mr Justice Dennis Dominic Adjei fixed March 28, 2012 to rule on Mr Osafo-Maafo’s application for interlocutory injunction to restrain the EOCO from investigating him.
The court fixed the date after parties in the case had indicated that they intended to rely on their written submissions.
In the application for interlocutory injunction, Mr Osafo-Maafo is praying the court 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 motion filed on his behalf by his lawyer, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame 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.
An affidavit in support of the substantive suit and deposed to by counsel for Mr. Osafo-Maafo stated among others that the President’s directive to the EOCO was a ruse in furtherance of the President’s agenda to divert attention and calculated at vindicating his prior public pronouncements of wrongdoing and impropriety by key members of the erstwhile New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration.
It said the various public statements of the President as well as other government functionaries on the payment of money to Mr Woyome undoubtedly demonstrated the bias and the prejudice of the government and the Office of the Attorney-General, the authority with oversight responsibility for the EOCO.
According to the affidavit in support “the ample exhibition of bias and prejudice against key personalities in the erstwhile Kufuor administration including the plaintiff, the defendant cannot be trusted to carry out any fair or impartial investigations into the relevant issues in controversy.”
It further pointed out that the President’s directive mandating the EOCO to carry out investigations in question was in utter bad faith and in gross contravention of the injunction imposed on all persons in positions of authority by the combined effect of Articles 23 and 296 of the 1992 Constitution to act fairly, reasonably and in accordance with due process and in a manner devoid of prejudice, arbitrariness and capriciousness.
“Indeed, the conduct of the President and Attorney-General so far, flouts the fundamental principle of natural justice underpinning our legal system for a person not to be a judge in his own cause and for that matter ought to be curtailed by this honourable court,” the affidavit in support stated.
It added that the Constitution mandated only Parliament to investigate matters arising out of reports of the Auditor-General and to this extent, the defendant’s actions are a direct affront to the authority and powers of Parliament under Article 187 of the Constitution and accordingly prayed the court to grant the plaintiff’s reliefs.
In the substantive matter, Mr Osafo-Maafo is accordingly 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 GHC51.2 to 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.
Mr Osafo-Maafo, who is also a former Minister of Education, is pleading with the court to declare that the purported investigations being undertaken by the EOCO were actuated by bias and prejudice and therefore, unlawful under the 1992 Constitution.
He 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.