General News of Wednesday, 19 July 2017
The Supreme Court has dismissed the application filed by National Democratic Congress (NDC) businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, seeking to temporarily halt his oral examination by the Attorney General over the GH¢51.2 million paid to him by the state as judgement debt.
According to the three-member panel of judges presided over by Justice William Atuguba, the matter before the court had been settled by CI 98, 2016.
The justices stated that the application was misconceived and accordingly dismissed it.
Lawyers of the businessman had dashed to the court urging the ‘three wise men’ to vary, discharge or reverse the decision by the sole judge – Justice A. A. Benin – granting the request of the state to orally quiz Mr. Woyome over the controversial cash.
The judge had also placed an embargo on the shares owned by the businessman in 11 companies, following his indebtedness to the state.
Shares affected include those in Anator Holding Company Limited, AAW Management Consulting Services Limited, Green Township Security Services Company Limited, Anator Construction Company Limited, Woyome Brothers International Limited and Stewise Anator Company Limited.
The rest are Stewise Shopping Company Limited, Green Townships and Industrial Parks Development Company Limited, Anator Power Company Limited, Green Townships (Gh) Company Limited and Special Economic Zone International Trading Company Limited.
Per the order, Mr. Woyome was also to appear before the court to explain why the embargo should not be made permanent.
The court stated that when the order was given, “A copy of the order should be served on the said judgement/debtor to appear before this court on Thursday, 29th June, 2017 to show cause why the charging order should not be made absolute,’’ the order stated.
It followed a motion filed by the Attorney General (AG) on May 17, 2017 praying the court to impose a “charging order” on all the shares owned by the businessman in the 11 companies.
The order also followed a motion filed by the AG on June 2, 2017, praying the court to be given the opportunity to orally examine the businessman.
The oral examination, the court ordered, would border on whether Mr. Woyome owed the state any debt and whether he had “any property for satisfying the judgement of the court, dated July 29, 2014.
Also, the oral examination, according to the court, would be premised on whether the businessman “has any means of satisfying the judgement of this court, dated July 29, 2014’’ and the manner in which he “used the money paid to him by the Republic of Ghana.”
However, moving the application yesterday to reverse the decision of the sole judge, Ken Anku, lawyer for the embattled businessman, said the motion was before the court pursuant to Article 134 (b) of the 1992 Constitution.
He stated that the respondent had also filed the application ex-parte under CI 46 and 47 seeking to place temporary charges on the shares of Mr. Woyome.
Mr. Anku indicated that the sole judge entertained the application and made the said order, adding that the judge ought not to have entertained the application ex-parte.
He explained that any motion to a sole judge should be by a motion on notice served on the other parties in the case.
Mr. Woyome’s lawyer said the Supreme Court properly constituted for its work, recognized on February 1, 2017 through Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo, admitted that Article 134 (b) of the Constitution in so far as it concerns a single judge, needed interpretation.
He contended that as at now, the said Article regarding the scope and magnitude of the sole judge had not been interpreted.
Mr. Anku said Article 129 (4) of the Constitution is for the Supreme Court properly constituted for its work and not a single judge, adding that “a single judge’s scope and power are still not determined.”
He said the procedure the respondent used to bring the case before the sole judge was wrong and incompetent.
AG Fires Back
Godfred Yeboah Dame, a Deputy Attorney General, who led a team of state prosecutors to the court, urged the court to dismiss the case of Mr. Woyome.
He said Mr. Woyme’s lawyer had not said the court should set aside the decision of the sole judge, indicating that his (Anku’s) motion before the court was a narrow interpretation of Article 134 (b) of the Constitution.
The deputy AG posited that the article confers jurisdiction on a single judge.
According to him, the state dragged Woyome to court but not before a single judge, stressing that the empanelling of judges [to preside over cases] is the discretion of the Chief Justice.
Mr. Yeboah Dame noted that the single judge operated within the law, urging the three judges to dismiss the application and award cost of GH¢10,000 against the applicant.
He claimed Mr. Woyome had frustrated the execution of the judgment of the court by filing all manner of applications.
But Mr. Anku disagreed, indicating that his client was already “down” and had no money to pay other costs.
He said his client had used lawful means and course to assert his rights and wondered why that should attract a cost.
Mr. Anku said his client, who is now “down,” when slapped with cost will only “die.”
Meanwhile, the court has struck out another application filed by Woyome to stay all enforcement proceedings regarding the case until the determination of the case before the African Court of Justice and Human Rights.
This was after Mr. Anku had been subjected to a barrage of questions by the three judges after noticing certain errors on the application.
Justice Yaw Appau, a member of the panel, retorted, “Your applicant had been bringing frivolous applications…you can’t continue bringing frivolous applications one after the other…”
He continued, “Unless you want us to tell you that you are incompetent, but you are competent…”
An apparently dazed Anku pleaded, “My lords should look at the substance rather than the heading…I will want to withdraw and come back properly.”