Judge Fights Apau Report

It has emerged that Justice I.O. Tanko Amadu, the trial judge who caused the payment of a whopping GH¢51.2 million judgement debt to National Democratic Congress (NDC) bankroller, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, did not order payment of the entire amount.

Rather, it was a decision by the then Attorney General (AG), Betty Mould-Iddrisu and her deputy, Ebo Barton-Odro, to authorise the payment after an out-of-court agreement with Mr Woyome was reached without recourse to the court.

AG’s Application
According to a source close to the judge, in granting a stay of execution on September 6, 2010, which the Attorney General applied for, Justice Tanko Amadu had ordered that only GH¢17,094,493.53 out of the total sum of GH¢51,283,480.59 be paid to Woyome.

The trial judge went further to direct that an undertaking be extracted from Woyome as a condition precedent to the partial payment so that should he lose the final case, he would refund the sum together with all accumulated interests and costs following any future judicial event.

Woyome’s Obligation
The trial judge unequivocally ordered a stay of execution of the balance of GH¢34,188,987.06 which Betty was not obliged to pay until the fresh case filed by the same Attorney General was concluded.

‘It is therefore obviously inaccurate as the Commission’s leaked report is suggesting that it was the trial judge who ordered the payment of the whopping total sum of GH¢51,283,480.59,’ the source claimed, referring to the report of Justice Apau’s Judgement Debt Commission.

Entire Payment
According to the DAILY GUIDE source, all the payments the Attorney General made in favour of Alfred Woyome were done outside the normal procedure of payment of judgement debts through the court system.

‘Having failed to post the undertaking, Alfred Woyome was not entitled to even the GH¢17,094,493.53 the trial judge ordered the Attorney General to pay conditionally,’ the source hinted.

‘It is now clear that these vital matters available to the Sole Commissioner were deliberately suppressed or that the Commissioner simply failed to be diligent but only picked and chose those facts that support other motives than truth and fairness,’ the source added.

Leaked Report
The latest revelation appears to contradict a leaked report by the just-ended Judgement Debt Commission of inquiry headed by the newly-appointed Supreme Court judge, Justice Yaw Apau, which accused Justice Tanko of some wrongdoing.

A copy of the report of the Sole Commissioner tasked to look into the payment of various judgement debts by the state reportedly raised serious issues about the basis and propriety to award and order the payment of judgement debt to Woyome, who thumps his chest as NDC bankroller.

Woyome claimed that the state owed him for job done in the stadia refurbishment for the CAN 2008 tournament. However, the Sole Commissioner rubbished the claim, indicting the trial judge as well as Mrs Mould-Iddrisu for doing a shoddy job.

Notorious Case
It said, ‘This Commission finds as a fact that there was no basis for the payment of the sum of over GH¢51 million to the plaintiff, Alfred Agbesi Woyome,’ describing the case as ‘the most notorious of all judgement debt cases that this commission was tasked to look into.’

This, the report said, was because ‘He was not entitled to any such payment as the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) rightly found and stated in its interim report dated February 1, 2012.’

It indicated, ‘The fact is that Alfred Agbesi Woyome did not demonstrate in any way in his statement of claim that he ever brought into the country, through his alleged financial engineering expertise, the sum of (€1,106, 470,587) for the construction of stadia and medical facilities in the country as he claimed in his action.’

Barton-Odro’s Justification
A document cited by this paper showed that former Deputy AG, Ebo Barton-Odro, justified the payment of the judgement debt to President John Evans Atta Mills, whose office had requested for an explanation in the wake of the scandal.

The document, which Woyome reportedly relied heavily on during his criminal trial, was written and signed by Barton-Odro on December 16, 2011 and it set out ‘the background and facts of the matter.’

It said that Mr Woyome’s claim was based on a proposal by a consortium of Vamed/Watervile which would have brought in funding for sports stadia and facilities at €764,117,646.00 , Hospital and Wellness Centre at €329,411,765 as well as GAEC, Cobalt 60 Irradiation Plant and Tissue Culture facilities at €12,941,176.00, all totalling €1,106,470,587.00.

‘It was based on the advice received that the AG gave the opinions dated 13th March, 2010 and 11th April, 2010 respectively that Alfred Agbesi and Austro-Invest should be paid 2% of the total amount syndicated in 2005,’ the then deputy minister, who is the NDC MP for Cape Coast South, said.

According to him, ‘The High Court had no other option than to give default judgement in favour of Mr Woyome on May 24, 2010, which the AG’s office tried unsuccessfully to set aside.’

Commission’s Proceedings
It will be recalled that the Judgement Debt Commission ended its proceedings last year without the appearance of some powerful people tagged by critics as ‘architects’ of modern day judgement debt payments.

Former ministers under whose tenure most of the ‘dubious’ and ‘frivolous’ judgement debts were paid were not called to give testimonies about how the ‘monster’ called judgement debt suddenly gained root in Ghana’s politico lexicon, but the leaked report indicated that the Commission had relied on documents made available.

The two ministers who were on the lips of the public as having supervised some of the alleged payments that somewhat triggered the setting up of the Commission by President John Mahama were Mrs Mould-Iddrisu and Barton-Odro, the latter being the deputy speaker of Parliament.

By William Yaw Owusu

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