Former President Jerry John Rawlings does not understand why businessman and financier of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Alfred Agebsi Woyome, should walk a freeman.
Woyome was paid an amount of GH¢51.2 million as judgment debt over what he said was an abrogated contract; but former government ministers, including Yaw Osafo-Maafo, claimed he (Woyome) did not do any work for the government.
Despite the fact that he was yesterday acquitted and discharged by an Accra High Court over charges of wilfully causing financial loss to the state and defrauding by false pretences, Mr Rawlings still believes and insists that Woyome is a thief.
‘Woyome, the thief, has been left off the hook because some of our people who were in government who were complicit in the thievery weren’t produced for interrogation to provide vital evidence that will show that Woyome is a thief: Betty Mould and one other person,’ he said in the local Ga language and same translated into English.
This was after he had heard news of the high court ruling which has since provoked mixed reactions.
‘This is the extent of corruption I keep talking about. I just read that they have freed the thief called Woyome. Why, because his accomplices [Betty Mould-Iddrisu and one other] in government were not produced in court for interrogation to provide vital evidence to incriminate him,’ Jerry Rawlings, fondly called Papa J, said angrily.
He therefore blamed the state prosecutors for failing to produce the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Madam Betty Mould-Iddrisu, who is currently one of the chairpersons of the NDC and her then deputy, Ebo Barton-Odro, who is also currently the 1 st deputy speaker of the country’s august Parliament.
Papa J made the comments when the family of one Isaac Tetteh called on him at his residence to inform him about the death of his (Tetteh’s) kinsman.
Still on Woyome’s issue, the former President, who is also founder of the NDC, noted that ‘because his collaborators were untouched he was also freed. The rot in government keeps aggravating. The Attorney General had let loose the collaborators so how can Woyome be prosecuted?’
‘So because his collaborators were left off the hook, he also had to be left off the hook, so the rot keeps festering,’ he said.
Mr Rawlings underscored, ‘At the Attorney General’s office, those who collaborated, who should have been called, have been left off the hook. How then do you sentence Woyome? Then we say we are fighting corruption. We are not serious.’
What seemed to annoy him most was the fact that ‘all of them have hurriedly gone to take positions in the party…to protect themselves and we are also voting for them blindly.’
He could not but ask rhetorically, ‘Are we fools? Are we so stupid?’
The former President’s anger was premised on the fact that in spite of a court order, Betty Mould-Iddrisu and Barton-Odro ordered payment of the gargantuan money to Woyome.
Barton-Odro for instance, justified the payment of judgment debt to Woyome in a letter copied to the late President J.E.A. Mills.
In spite of several calls for him to be sacked from government, Barton-Odro was graciously honoured with an appointment as 1st deputy speaker of Parliament while Betty is now a vice chairperson of the NDC.
A day before yesterday’s ruling, Mrs Mould-Iddrisu told Accra-based Starr FM that she did nothing untoward in the payment of the judgment debt to Mr Woyome. Barton-Odro has however, kept mum over the issue.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Marietta Brew-Oppong, has indicated her outfit’s preparedness to appeal against the high court ruling with the hope of overturning the judgment, even though observers believe it would amount to nothing but a mere waste of time and national resources.
‘We disagree completely with the judgment of the court,’ she said.
In view of that, she indicated, ‘We are applying for a copy of the judgment, study it carefully and appeal accordingly.’
By Charles Takyi-Boadu
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