General News of Thursday, 12 March 2015
Editor-in-chief of the Crusading Guide Newspaper says businessman Alfred Agbesie Woyome may have escaped jail for his involvement in a 51 million cedis judgment debt scandal but will certainly pay back the amount he undeservedly received.
Malik Kweku Baako Jnr described the judgement as a sad day for Ghana, not because the presiding judge was wrong in his ruling but because the prosecution was shoddy in its job.
He was confident though that the state should be able to retrieve the controversial sum from Woyome with the superior verdict from the Supreme Court in its favour.
High Court judge, Justice Ajet-Nassam acquitted and discharged the NDC financier on all counts of willfully causing financial loss to the state and defrauding by false pretence.
He said in his ruling that the prosecution was not thorough in its case and wondered why key actors in the scandal, including former Attorney General Betty Mould Iddrisu and her Deputy Ebo Barton Oduro were not made to testify in the case.
He said the prosecution failed to prove its case against the suspect and therefore he had no choice than to allow him to walk.
Friends and family members of Alfred Woyome erupted into wild jubilation shortly after the verdict was announced.
But speaking to Myjoyonline.com hours after the verdict, Kweku Baako Jnr said he could not agree more with the judge.
The newspaper editor said the two charges leveled against the suspect were destined to fail even before the trial began.
He said the State could not possibly secure a favorable judgement on the charge of defrauding by false pretence when it was clear the suspect had gone to court to secure the judgement debt payment.
The street lawyer, as he describes himself, said the State ought to have set aside the initial judgement by the Commercial Court which formed the basis on which Woyome was paid before proceeding with its prosecution.
Alfred Woyome had gone to court in 2010 seeking damages for a contract he said was illegally abrogated by the erstwhile NPP. He asked for a judgement debt to be paid him on account of the illegal abrogation. The court reluctantly granted the request by Woyome against the state because the Attorney General at the time, Mrs Betty Mould Iddrisu, and her charges failed to defend the State in court.
Kweku Baako Jnr said with that reluctant judgment still standing, the State cannot make a u-turn with an accusation of defrauding by false pretence and still expect a verdict in its favour.
On the charge of willfully causing financial loss to the State, the ace journalist said Alfred Woyome, a private individual could not have committed that crime all by himself.
“How could he alone on his own, not being a public official or government officer do that kind of thing, commit that kind of offence. Obviously he needed collaborators to succeed.
“If you look at the two charges it appears they were dead on arrival from day one. Stillborn,” he stated.
He said Betty Mould Iddrisu, Dr Kwabena Duffuor who was former Finance Minister, Nerquaye Tetteh, who was principal state attorney and more critically Mr Paul Asimenu, Director– at the Legal Department of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP) all had to face prosecution for their roles in the scandal.
While the judge’s ruling may come as a surprise to Ghanaians, Baako Jnr said Woyome was “damn lucky” to have been acquitted but “as far as I am concerned it is not yet Uhuru, if you like total freedom for Woyome. He has escaped custodial punishment but he has not escaped liability of paying the money that he was undeservedly paid by the State.”
Kweku Baako Jnr said the State must quickly turn to the judgement by the Supreme Court which asked Woyome to refund the money illegally paid to him.
The Supreme Court in a civil case filed by Martin Amidu against Woyome said the NDC financier had no basis to demand or receive the 51 million cedis and ordered him to refund the amount to the State.
He said based on that ruling the government must “by all means and at all cost” pursue that judgement and get that money for the State.