The Minority Caucus in Parliament on Thursday accused President Mills of having a hand in the heavily criticised GhC58 million judgment debt awarded NDC financier, Alfred Woyome saying Professor Mills’ pronouncements on the matter since it broke makes him an accomplice in causing financial loss to the state.
Read below the full statement by the Minority at the press conference addressed by Hon Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu.
THE ALFRED AGBESI WOYOME IMBROGLIO AND FURTHER QUESTIONS ENSUING…MINORITY CAUCUS MEDIA BRIEFING ON JANUARY 5, 2012
Countrymen and women, as might be recalled, on the 20th of December 2010 the Minority in Parliament held a press conference to question the conduct of the Minister of Finance and Economic planning, the then Attorney-General and, indeed, the Office of the President in the payment of a total of fifty eight million Ghana cedis (GH¢58,000,000) or five hundred and eighty billion cedis to one Alfred Agbesi Woyome who had claimed that he had “rendered services” to the State and had made a claim for same. Alfred Agbesi Woyome had neither put in a bid or entered into any contract whatsoever with Government of Ghana to construct any Stadium or even a playing field in Ghana between 2001 and 2006.
Article 88(1) of the 1992 Constitution makes the Attorney-General the principal legal adviser to the Government. The Attorney-General, according to Article 88(3) is responsible for the institution and conduct of all prosecutions of criminal offences. As well, the Attorney-General, per Article 88(5) is responsible for the institution and conduct of all civil cases on behalf of the State; and all civil proceedings against the State shall be instituted against the Attorney-General as defendant. The Attorney-General in the Woyome imbroglio Hon Betty Mould-Iddrisu was the Minister of Justice for the Professor Mills’ NDC government.
The Minority unveiled the plaque to reveal the sequencing of events which has led to the reckless payment of a colossal amount of GH¢58 million to Alfred Agbesi Woyome as a person for no work done by him personally in this country.
To put the pay out to Woyome in context, it is important to state that for the 2012 fiscal year none of the priority intervention programmes of government attracted an allocation of GH¢50 million. SADA for the savanna regions of Ghana involving Brong Ahafo, Volta, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions has been allocated GH¢30 million; Capitation grant GH¢25 million; schools under trees GH¢28 million, Ghana government scholarships GH¢22 million; completion of nurses training schools at Goaso, Cape Coast, Agogo, Pantang, Hohoe and Wa GH¢5million; subsidy for all senior High Schools in the country GH¢48 million; MASLOC GH¢35 million. So a loss of GH¢58 million is, by any reckoning, a very serious matter.
In the Woyome drama it is important to let the good people of Ghana know what happened at exactly what periods.
1. On or about April 12, 2010 before the matter was commenced in court Hon Betty Mould-Iddrisu met Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome to discuss the latter’s purportd service rendered to the State and the supposed abrogation of contract by the Kufuor administration.
2. A couple of days later, still before the case was initiated in court, the Attorney-General Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu advised Dr. Kwabena Duffuor to pay two per cent (2%) of the total value of the stadia projects to Alfred Woyome and Austro Invest for an alleged breach of agreement by Government of Ghana.
3. On Monday, 19th April 2010 Alfred Woyome, after the initial discussion with the Attorney-General sued the Attorney-General and the Minister of Finance.
4. On Thursday, May 6, 2010 Alfred Woyome amended the endorsement on the writ seeking four reliefs which we alluded to in our first media encounter.
5. The Attorney-General filed entry of appearance but did not file any defence (In a later application she stated that there was no defence to the claim)
6. On Monday, May 24, exactly 18 days (two-and-a-half weeks) after the amended claim, the court entered judgment in favour of Alfred Woyome totaling GH¢105,540,548.24 and awarded cost of GH¢25,000 against the Republic of Ghana. This was because the Attorney-General failed or refused to file a defence.
7. On Friday, May 28, 2010 just four days after the judgment, the Attorney-General, Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu, wrote to the Finance Minister with a copy to the Chief of Staff that she had negotiated with Woyome for him to accept GH¢41,811,480.59 and advised the Minister of Finance to pay.
8. On Friday, June 4, the much heralded day for “probity and accountability”, on June 4, 2010 eleven days after the default judgment, the Attorney-General, filed the terms of the so-called negotiated settlement at the registry of the court, this time stating that the defendant (i.e. A.G) shall pay the plaintiff (Woyome) the sum of GH¢51,283,480.59 in three equal installments of GH¢17,094,493.53 beginning June and ending August 31, 2010. Yet, earlier on May 28, the same Attorney-General had requested the Minister of Finance to pay GH¢41,811,480.59. What had changed in 7 days?
9. On Friday, June 11, 2010 exactly one week (7 days) after filing the terms of negotiated settlement the same Attorney-General filed an application for an order to set aside the terms of the settlement between her office and Alfred Woyome. The reasons for her plea were two fold: First, that she “was of the mistaken belief” that her office had no defence, and that she had discovered that they now had a defence; Second, that the terms of settlement which she had endorsed stated an amount of GH¢51,283,480.59 instead of
10. After the Attorney-General’s application to the court to set aside the terms of settlement, it took one month for the court to sit again. This time the application of the Attorney-General was refused. The terms of the original settlement proposed by the Attorney-General were thus adopted as consent judgment.
11. Thus far the case had travelled with the speed of light. Noteworthily, again after the refusal of the court to set aside the consent judgment the Attorney-General only after six weeks, i.e. on Wednesday, August 18, 2010 issued a writ and filed for a stay of execution of the judgment of the court.
12. On Monday, September 6, 2010 the court ruled ordering payment of only the first tranche of GH¢17,094,493.53 and granted the stay of execution on the second and third tranches.
13. On September 26, 2010 an installment to Woyome was paid.
14. Whilst the stay of execution was pending the first, second and third tranches had been paid plus supposed costs which have shot the total payment thus far to fifty eight million Ghana cedis (¢580 billion).
15. Now, according to the Auditor-General’s Report by June 4, 2010 GH¢41 million had already been paid. This means that the amount which was paid on September 26, 2010 was the payment which brought the total settlement to GH¢58 million. The Attorney-General knew these payments; the Finance Minister paid out these monies after they had been sanctioned by the Office of the President.
In the supposed negotiations relating to and settlement of these claims, the Attorney-General had informed the Minister of Finance and the Office of the President through the Chief of Staff. In the event, when the President returned to the country on December 2011 and, confronted with the Woyome saga, responded by calling for “a report”, that call for a report could only be self-serving. The President’s call for a report was an attempt to claim an alibi since at all material times the President had been briefed of the various acts, scenes and episodes in the drama.
Let us assume that the President had been away for a very long a time (more than five weeks, in itself unprecedented in the history of our country, especially when he had not officially informed us that he had travelled to seek medical treatment) or that given the volume of work he might have forgotten about that particular matter which explains why he called for a report.
The media encounter which the Minority Caucus had on the issue happened barely twenty four hours after the President had, on his return from the USA, at KIA called for a report. The question to ask is a report by who? The Attorney-General, the Chief of Staff, the Minister of Finance or Woyome one of the President’s key financiers?
In the evening of December 21, 2010 in apparent response to the Minority Caucus’ press conference the President invited the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to investigate the Woyome matter. That stand of the President is worrying.
First we will want to know what is the content of the report that the President initially called for. Who submitted it and when was it submitted? Second, the President knows the remit of EOCO which responds generally to the Attorney-General.
Indeed, the EOCO Act, 2010 (Act 804) provides that primarily “the functions of the Office are to investigate and on the authority of Attorney-General prosecute serious offences….” Clearly, the EOCO is an inferior office to the Attorney-Generals’ Office and it is not right, administratively or legally, to ask an inferior officer to investigate a superior officer. The President, a law lecturer, knows this basic principle.
In any event, as we chronicled in our earlier press statement, it is not the conduct of only the office of the Attorney-General which has been called into question in the Woyome saga but, as well, that of the Finance Minister and the Office of the President. It is for this reason that the NPP Minority Caucus, have called and do hereby reiterate our call for the constitution of a truly independent public enquiry i.e. public hearings like Ghana at 50 with live broadcast on all public television and radio networks for all citizens to participate in, to be immediately instituted.
It is instructive to note, ladies and gentlemen, that after our call several important personalities including the flagbearer of the NPP, Nana Akufo Addo, the TUC, many pastors of several churches and many NGOs have added their voices to the call for the institution of a truly impartial and independent public inquiry. For the membership of such a body we suggest one of our most distinguished judges, whether active or retired, to chair.
The Ghana Bar Association would nominate a representative, the Institute of Chartered Accountants would nominate a representative and we could have two nominations from the Institute of Chartered Surveyors and the Institute of Architects. Since Parliament is the foremost institution charged with oversighting the Executive, Parliament must be strengthened to concurrently investigate the nuances of this saga in a very diligent and scrutinuous manner. The truth must be established.
There should not be any white wash.
In all the unfolding events we have established that there was no contract between Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome and the State. If there is no contract there cannot be culpability or liability and that is why Ghanaians discern recklessness, improprieties, malfeasance and fraud and sniff collusion and corruption. Our President is an Associate Professor of tax law. He enters into a fray and calls for a report of some sort. Barely 24 hours thereafter he calls for EOCO to investigate the same matter. The kernel of this matter is whether or not there is a contract. None of the persons who have spoken for Woyome has established that there was a contract between Woyome and the Government of Ghana. Woyome himself has repeatedly been challenged on this. He has not been able to produce any contract. That is the simple truth.
We have all this while struggled to believe that the intention of the President in calling for a “report” or inviting “EOCO to investigate” this single most unfortunate event was to establish whether or not there was any contract and whether or not there is any liability. We have disagreed with the modus of the President in the bid to unravel the truth in this matter. This is why we are dumbfounded by the utterances of the President before jetting out of the country to the effect that he is not interested in embarrassing anybody but his prime concern is about those who caused the liability in the first place. This is the most bizzare of all statements made in relation to the Woyome case.
This is so because this latest pronouncement of the President means that in the thinking of the President there is liability on the part of the State. If there is liability then there is a legitimate contract. When the person at the centre cannot lay claim to any contract. Now the cat is out of the bag. When the President said he does not want to embarrass anyone what he really meant was that he does not want to embarrass himself, his Office, his Ministers, and his so-called financiers who are looting the coffers of the State to sponsor his campaign. Obviously, the President knew about and indeed authorized the payment to Woyome. This means that the President has agreed that there is liability.
So when he called for a report what report was talking about?
The NDC government, the government of Professor Evans Atta Mills stands accused in this matter. EOCO is not an independent body. It is subject to the Attorney-General. Justice will not allow anyone to be a judge in his own cause. What President Atta Mills seeks to do or is purporting to do by involving EOCO is against the principles of natural justice. Justice should not only be done, it should manifestly be seen to be done. The resort to EOCO by Prof. Mills is a cover up attempt. That is why we call on all men and women of goodwill in this country to join us to resist this with all their might.
Ladies and gentlemen as we have sought to establish, the President was informed by both the Attorney-General and the Minister of Finance about settlement with and payment to Alfred Agbesi Woyome. The President of the Republic is the fountain of honour of our State. We must be decorous even in our criticism of the person occupying that position. Nonetheless, if our President, with this knowledge and involvement turns round to first ask for a report and later the involvement of EOCO what then does this tell about the character of our President? A person to be trusted or a person not to be trusted? Let the good people of this country be better judges.
The brouhaha surrounding what has become known as the Woyomegate relates only to 2010 fiscal year. We want to know who else has been paid judgment debt in 2010. The nation waits in bated breath to know who has been awarded judgment debt in 2011. The Minority group wanted to have a breakdown and identities of persons who have benefited from judgment debts for 2011. The Minister of Finance was not forthcoming with the list of beneficiaries.
On Wednesday, December 28, the NDC government through a Deputy Minister issued a paper on judgment debts. It stated that between 2001 and 2011 government incurred GH¢642 million or ¢6.42 trillion as judgment debts. The NDC has informed that they have paid GH¢624 million or ¢6.42 trillion.
We demand to know the full complement of persons who have benefited from the payment of judgment debts from 2009 till date (please ref. to the Daily Graphic of Thursday, December 29, 2011).
It is a fact that Kufuor’s administration refused to make payments for some claims because of the fraudulent nature of some of the claims. Mills’ NDC has made payment to all such claims.
One may legitimately want to know if indeed government has paid ¢624 million out of ¢642 million leaving a balance of GH¢18 million why did the Minister of Finance hint about at least GH¢120 million or one trillion and two hundred billion cedis to pay judgment debts for 2012?
Paragraph 233 of the 2012 Budget Statement provides: “An amount of GH¢707.5 million has been provided in the Reserve Expenditure Vote for the payment of matching funds, judgment debt, oil lifting for security agencies, value books for MDAs and operational expenditures on elections.” Again, when the Minority questioned this lumping and called for disaggregation of the amount the Minister of Finance was not very forthcoming. Once bitten twice shy. Let the nation be told what judgment debts are intended to be settled for 2012.
Unfolding events are proving that indeed behind the façade of a seemingly gentle gait of our President is massive corruption which he is not purposed to unveil. The Good Book cannot be wrong when it provides: “By their fruits ye shall know them”.
The Bank of Ghana was directed to cause the freezing of the accounts of Alfred Agbesi Woyome. Has it been done? If it has been done, when was it done? Where are those accounts? Most of all, how much money is in those accounts? How much of the loot remains in which accounts? The nation demands answers.
Ladies and gentlemen, as you all have heard and witnessed, there are still many more questions than answers.
On our part we pledge to the nation that we will not rest until the truth comes out.
Thank you very much indeed for your attendance.