General News of Thursday, 20 July 2017
Businessman, Mr Alfred Agbesi Woyome, has failed in yet another attempt to stop his impending oral examination by the Attorney-General (A-G) in relation to his GH¢51.2 million indebtedness to the state.
The Supreme Court in a unanimous decision last Tuesday dismissed his review application, praying the court to reverse the orders granted by the same court presided over by a single justice, Mr Justice Alfred Anthony Benin, on June 8, 2017, for him to be orally examined by the A-G.
In a ruling dismissing the application, the three-member review panel presided over by Mr Justice William Atuguba, held that the application was “misconceived’’ and had no legal basis.
Other members on the panel were Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie and Mr Justice Yaw Appau.
With the review application dismissed, Mr Woyome has exhausted almost all his cards and must avail himself at the Supreme Court on July 24, 2017 to be orally examined to establish whether or not he has any means of paying the GH¢51.2 million and the manner in which he used the money.
Counsel for Mr Woyome, Mr Ken Anku, had argued that the A-G initiated the application for the oral examination and the embargo on his client’s shares by an ex parte motion (a motion made by a party without notifying the opposing party), but the rules of court explicitly stated that such application must be made by “motion on notice and served to the interested parties’’
“The procedure used by the A-G to bring the application was wrong and a single justice with limited powers of the Supreme Court should not have entertained the application ex parte.,’’ he stated.
He also submitted that although Article 134 of the 1992 Constitution gave the green light for a single justice of the Supreme Court to hear certain cases, the Supreme Court could only be duly constituted by five justices.
At that point, Mr Justice Appau asked counsel whether he truly understood the phrase in Article 134 which stated that “a single justice of the Supreme Court may exercise power vested in the Supreme Court.’’
Mr Justice Baffoe-Bonnie also informed counsel that by his assertion, it meant the three-member review panel hearing his client’s application was also not duly constituted, which was wrong.
In his submission opposing the application, a Deputy A-G, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, said the application that the A-G brought before the court, presided over by Mr Justice Benin was for the enforcement of the court judgement in 2014 which ordered Mr Woyome to repay the GH¢51.2 million because he had no valid contract with the government of Ghana.
Such an application per Article 134, he argued, could be brought before a single justice of the Supreme Court because it was not about a pending matter yet to be determined by the Supreme Court.
Mr Dame also submitted that the rule which enjoined such applications before a single justice of the Supreme Court to be moved by “motion on notice’’ instead of an ex parte motion had been substituted with another rule which made it admissible.
“The application by Mr Woyome is totally without merit and should be dismissed,’’ he prayed the court.
ABUSE OF COURT PROCESS
After the review application was dismissed, Mr Anku moved another application, this time seeking the court to suspend the execution of the 2014 judgement until his client’s appeal at the African Court of Justice in Arusha, Tanzania, was determined.
That move was met with series of bashing by the three justices on the panel.
According to the court, such an application must not be brought before a review panel but rather initiated by invoking the original jurisdiction of the court, and if the applicant was not satisfied with the outcome, he applied for review.
“Did you apply for a stay of execution before the single justice for which you want us to review it?” Mr Justice Appau asked Mr Anku.
“I am struggling to remember,’’ Mr Anku answered.
Mr Justice Atuguba then added that the jurisdiction of the panel was to vary, discharge or reverse the decisions of the court, presided over by a single justice.
“What a single justice has done in relation to what you sought is what we can undo,’’ he said.
Mr Justice Baffoe–Bonnie, on the other hand, described the application as an abuse of the court process.
“How can you start such a process in the middle? These kinds of applications are clearly frivolous and an abuse of the court process. We don’t want to tell you that you are incompetent because we know you are not,’’ he said.
After the series of bashing, Mr Anku withdrew the application, adding “I will withdraw and come back properly’’.