The state has indicated its intention to appeal against the acquittal and discharge of businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
“We disagree completely with the judgement of the court,” the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, said in an interview.
“We are applying for a copy of the judgement, study it carefully and appeal accordingly,” she noted.
One of her predecessors, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, had, in 2010, advised that Woyome be paid the amount.
Reacting to the court’s decision, Mrs Appiah-Opong said “the judge stated clearly that the Attorney-General’s office had made a case for Woyome to answer. It was for this reason that Woyome was asked to open his defence. Which aspect of Woyome’s defence created doubt in the prosecution’s case?”
She was referring to the court’s ruling on Woyome’s submission of “no case” after the state had closed its case.
The court had on April 30, 2014, ordered him to open his defence because the state had proved a case against him to warrant him to open his defence. He opened his defence on May 6, 2014 and ended on December 12, 2014.
“Interestingly, the judge did not mention Woyome’s defence and how the state punched holes during cross examination of him,” the A-G noted.
Mrs Appiah-Opong said “it was common knowledge that Barton-Odro and Mould-Iddrisu had as recent as yesterday, stated that payment of the money was justified. Should we have called them to the witness stand to come and say that story? Only a stupid prosecutor would have done that.”
She further queried “Again, who was defrauded? Betty and Barton? It was the state and we called all the witnesses to show that the state did not receive any value for money paid him.”
The Attorney-General said there was more than enough ground laid by the prosecution to secure a conviction of Woyome and for that reason “the state will definitely appeal the court’s decision”.
Lawyer for Woyome
Speaking to journalists after the court’s decision, one of the lawyers for Woyome, Mr Musah Ahmed, expressed joy at the judgement.
He was of the view that the defence fought a fierce battle which eventually led to the acquittal of his client.
Woyome was arrested on February 3, 2012 after the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), which was commissioned by the late President John Evans Atta Mills to investigate payment to him, had implicated him for wrongdoing.
He was first arraigned on February 6, 2012 together with three others.
The three people suspected to have aided Woyome were a Chief State Attorney, Mr Samuel Nerquaye-Tetteh; his wife, Mrs Gifty Nerquaye-Tetteh, and the Director of the Legal Department of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Paul Asimenu.
Woyome was initially charged with conspiracy, defrauding by false pretence and corrupting a public officer, while Mr Nerquaye-Tetteh was charged with conspiracy and corrupting a public officer. Asimenu and Mrs Nerquaye-Tetteh were charged with abetment of crime.
He was alleged to have paid GH¢400,000 to the couple but they and Mr Asimenu were, on June 5, 2012, freed, following the state’s declaration of filing a nolle prosequi to discontinue trying them.
Woyome was, however, re-arraigned and charged with two counts of causing financial loss to the state and defrauding by false pretence.
Feb 13, 2012 – Woyome, was on February 13, 2012 granted a GH¢54 million but his lawyers applied for variation and on February 20, 2012, the bail condition was reviewed and reduced to GH¢20 million.
Indictments, resignations and dismissals
The interim report of EOCO, which was presented to the President on February 2, 2012, also indicted two former government officials under whose watch the procurement process was carried out.
They were Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports at the time, and his deputy, Mr O. B. Amoah. But Mr Osafo-Maafo secured a court order which, declared EOCO’s investigation of him as illegal.
He also testified as a prosecution witness and ended his examination-in-chief on July 30, 2012.
A fallout from the Woyome scandal led to the dismissal of the then Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Mr Martin Amidu, who later managed to secure judgement against Woyome at the Supreme Court.
It also led to the resignation of the Minister of Education, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, who, as Attorney General and Minister of Justice, had recommended that the money be paid to Woyome.
The prosecution called nine witnesses but Woyome did not call any. He testified on his own behalf.
The crux of the prosecution’s case is that Woyome put in false claims by stating he was entitled to the amount because government had abrogated a contract for the construction of stadia for CAN 2008 when in fact there was no such contract.
Woyome on his part is arguing he was entitled to the money because a court of competent jurisdiction (Commercial Court) awarded him a default judgement in 2010 after the state had failed to put in a defence.
The prosecution, which has since closed its case, began calling its witnesses in June 2012.
Persons who testified on behalf of the state were Mrs Mangowa Ghanney of the MOFEP; Mr Osafo-Maafo; a former Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr Kwaku Agyeman Manu; Ms Yvonne Quansah of MOFEP and a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Mr Lionel Van Lare Dosoo.
Ms Lesley Dodoo of the Public Procurement Authority; Mr Andrea Orlandi, then Managing Director of Waterville Holdings, and Mr Ahmed Sulemana, the acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Justice, and the investigator in the case, Assistant Superintendent of Police Mr Odame Okyere, also testified.
Woyome had sued the state for a breach of contract relating to the construction of some stadia for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations hosted by Ghana and was awarded a default judgement to that tune because the state failed to put in a defence.
Submission of no case
Woyome on February 27, 2014 filed a submission of no case after the state had closed its case but the court on April 30, 2014 ordered him to open his defence. He opened his defence on May 6, 2014 and ended on December 12, 2014.
Supreme Court on Woyome’s heels
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is on the heels of Woyome to refund the GHC51.2 million.
The highest court of the land on July 29, 2014, ordered Woyome to refund GH¢51.2 million to the state 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.
It held, in a unanimous decision, that the contracts upon which Woyome made and received the claim were in contravention of Article 181 (5) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, which requires such contracts to be laid before and approved by Parliament.
The 11-member court, presided over by the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, was ruling on a review application filed by a former Attorney- General and Minister of Justice, Mr Martin Amidu.
Other members of the panel were Justices Julius Ansah, Sophia Adinyira, Rose Owusu, Jones Dotse, Anin Yeboah, Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, N. S. Gbadegbe, Vida Akoto Bamfo, A. A. Bennin and J.B. Akamba.
June 14, 2013 judgement
The court had on June 14, 2013, directed the international construction firm, Waterville Holdings Limited (BVI), to refund all the money paid to it by the Ghana government on the premise that it had no valid and constitutional contractual agreement with the government.
Waterville is expected to refund 25 million euros it received from the government, following the court’s judgement that the said contract it entered into with the government for stadia construction for CAN 2008 was unconstitutional.
Mr Amidu had, in the original suit, prayed the court to order Woyome to refund the money he had received as a result of the void contract the government had entered into with Waterville Holdings.
But the court declined jurisdiction over the issue, with the reason that the Attorney-General was pursuing the matter at the Commercial Court to retrieve the money.
According to the applicant, who filed the application for review on July 12, 2013, he had read the two judgements delivered by the Supreme Court very carefully, along with other Ghanaians of like thinking, and had come to the conclusion that some aspects of the judgement contained “exceptional circumstances that have resulted in what we perceive may constitute a miscarriage of justice”.
He said the 1992 Constitution imposed both rights and obligations, particularly under articles 2 and 3, on every Ghanaian citizen to ensure that the constitutional order established by the Constitution was not threatened or by an unlawful means abrogated.
The court in its July 29, 2014 decision upheld Mr Amidu’s review application and granted his prayer.
The Attorney-General has since filed an application to enforce the Supreme Court’s July 29, 2014 judgement.
Hearing of the application has been adjourned indefinitely to enable bailiffs to serve hearing notices on Woyome and Waterville Holdings.