Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Ghana: Criminal case against Woyome adjourned

Martin Amidu is disputing the assertion, made by President John Atta Mills in a Radio Gold interview on 23 December 2011, that the two international contracts between Ghana and Waterville Holdings (BVI) Limited, which are dated 26 April 2006, created liabilities for the government which obliged it to pay the Woyome judgement debt. According to Amidu's interpretation of Article 181 of the 1992 Constitution, Ghana cannot incur liability for any foreign or international loan or expenses incidental to such foreign or international loan transactions without parliamentary approval of the transaction.

On this basis, he asked the court to make a declaration that the payments made by the Attorney General to Waterville are inconsistent with and in contravention of the letter and spirit of the 1992 Constitution, as is the fact that the claims were never laid before or approved by parliament. Amidu also criticised the High Court and former Attorney General Betty Mould Iddrisu for allowing Alfred Woyome to commence a legal action on 19 April 2010 claiming damages for breach of contract in an international business transaction. He is seeking a declaration that “those proceedings and others consequent thereupon of the said High Court are null, void, and without effect whatsoever”.

The long-running Woyome case re-entered the spotlight earlier this month when Woyome - who had been charged with three counts of conspiracy, defrauding by false pretence and corrupting a public officer - was discharged and later re-arrested with the “more appropriate charges” of defrauding by false pretence and causing financial loss to the state. Fraud charges were dismissed against the other defendants in the case.

Woyome won a multimillion cedi pay-out after he filed a writ at the High Court claiming that a 2006 contract to renovate five sports stadiums in Ghana for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations tournament had been illegally cancelled by the previous government of then president John Agyekum Kufuor. The award came to light late last year after parliament examined a 2010 auditor-general report. Martin Amidu subsequently lost his job in January 2012 along with another government minister.

The criminal case against Woyome has been adjourned to 12 July by an Accra High Court with the state prosecution pleading for more time to bring another witness.

For more news and expert analysis about Ghana, please see Ghana Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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