It has emerged that the Deputy Second Speaker of Parliament, Joe Ghartey, caused a loss of 5.130 billion old Ghana cedi (GH¢513.907.74) in two separate litigations against his government, as a result of his failure to be in court, while serving as Attorney and Minister of Justice in the John Agyekum Kufuor administration.
In one instance, a claimant by name Peter Abban, who did not deserve compensation according to documents at the Department of Urban Roads, successfully took home over GH¢200,000 (¢2 billion) from the government as judgment debt.
Shockingly, the payment was made possible after Mr. Ghartey’s office sent documents dated April 10, 2008 to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, giving background to the case and directing them to ensure payment.
In the second instance, Mr. Ghartey, who is the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Essikado-Ketan Constituency in the Western Region, sat quietly and allowed ¢3.130 billion (GH¢313,907.74) as judgement debt in 2008 by P&N Construction and Wood Company Limited, having failed to enter an appearance in the case.
The payments, confirm ex-Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Betty Mould-Iddrisu, who has been publicly and politically berated over GH¢51.2 million given to Alfred Agbesi Woyome and €94 million to a German company; Construction Pioneers (CP) for no work done, is not alone in this.
In the case of Peter Abban, he had gone to court to obtain judgment with the claim that his property was demolished when the Kanda Highway in Accra was being constructed.
Kwadwo Awuah Peasah, Director in-charge of External Resource Mobilization at the Ministry of Finance, has confirmed to the Judgment Commission, led by Justice Yaw Paul that payment has since been made to the said Mr. Abban.
Led in evidence by Dometi Kofi Sorpkor, the Commission’s counsel, Mr. Peasah said, documents available indicated that it was on April 10, 2008 that the Attorney-General’s Office wrote to the Ministry of Finance, giving background to the case and directing them to ensure the payment.
“We only complied with the directive of the A-G by instructing us to process the balance of GH¢127,291 for payment to the claimant.”
He said, the total judgement debt was GH¢264,643 out of which GH¢137,353 had already been paid. He told the Commission that the Ministry was not aware that Mr. Abban’s name was not on the list of people who were to be paid compensation in respect of the project.
He also said, his outfit was not aware that the A-G did not contest Mr. Abban’s case in court.
The revelations angered the Sole Judgement Debt Commissioner, Justice Apau, who remarked, “If people can take money for free, where is the government going to find money to pay workers?”
The Sole Commissioner then read a document indicating that the Department of Urban Roads had written that Mr. Abban was not entitled to compensation, because his wall was not supposed to be part of the property demolished to pave way for the project.
“It was a default judgement,” the judge said, adding, “The account of Urban Roads was garnished and that was why he was given that amount.’”Mr. Apau yelled, “I do not want to get high blood pressure on some of these things.”
But the Attorney-General, who was summoned to explain issues to the Commission in respect of the matter, had written to say the officer in-charge of the docket in question had travelled and that the Lands Commission’s representative was also not available.
In the case in which P&N Construction and Wood Company Limited was awarded GH¢313,907.74 judgement debt in 2008, the Ministry of Roads and Highways has also been directed by the Commission to provide documents relating to the contract awarded to P&N Construction, which culminated in the payment of the judgement debt.
P&N Construction is said to have been given a contract to do surfacing on the roads in the Afia Kobi Girls’ Senior High School and another contract for the surfacing of roads at Ankaase, both in the Ashanti Region.
Mr Sorkpor, said the construction company had commenced the project, but stopped midway, a situation which discouraged the authorities from effecting payment.
He said P&N Construction went to court to seek judgement debt payment, but the A-G’s Department under the instructions of Mr. Joe Ghartey “did not enter any appearance”.
He said, the court gave judgement based on the demand of P&N Construction on June 5, 2008.
He said, the A-G Department could have won the case if it had entered appearance, because the contractor had not completed the project.
“He went to the court alone. There was no opposition and the court awarded the cost,” Mr. Sorkpor said.
The A-G’s Department could not appear before the Commission yesterday as requested by the Commission.
The Sole Commissioner, Justice Apau said, officials of the A-G’s Department had written to the commission that they could not make an appearance because of circumstances beyond their control.
He indicated that it was crucial for the A-G to answer why it did not contest the demand for the judgement debt payment to the construction company, when it could have saved the money to the state.
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Roads and Transport too failed to appear before the Commission at its last sitting to provide documents relating to the contract. The ministry had also written to the commission that the chief director would not be available.
Consequently, the Commission Adjourned the case to April 15, 2014 for the A-G’s Department and the Ministry of Roads and Transport to make appearances.
Mr. Ghartey, a man with presidential ambition, has been vociferous in the Woyome-Betty Mould-Iddrisu, as well as Betty-Mould-CP Judgment Debt condemnation; it is unclear, whether he has some explanation to his failure to be in court to dismantle the case against the government, leading to the huge payments.