THE EMBATTLED self-styled National Democratic Congress (NDC) financier, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, has a date at an Accra High Court Commercial Division today over the scandalous payment of GH¢58million, when the Attorney General pushes for the appeal against the judgment debt which led to the payment.
The Attorney General is asking the court presided over by Justice Barbara Ackah Ayensu to uphold a stay of execution of a judgment debt it awarded to Woyome even though the money had been paid to him.
Solicitors for the NDC bankroller confirmed the court date to Joy FM yesterday, explaining however that the case was not a new one but had been filed about seven months ago against the outrageous payment ordered by the previous Attorney General, Betty Mould-Iddrisu.
Betty's head is on the chopping board as more groups including NDC members call for her head after the opposition NPP had led the 'Betty must go campaign.'
NDC MP for Lower Manya, Michael Teye Nyaunu and a pro-NDC political pressure group, Alliance for Responsible Opposition (AFRO) think Mrs Mould-Iddrisu, who is now Minister of Education, has no business to stay in government.
The court awarded GH¢42million for breach of contract in the renovation of three stadia in Accra and Kumasi for the hosting of CAN 2008 African Cup of Nations tournament. However, before the court had ordered the payment of GH¢17million as first tranche, GH¢42million had already been paid to the NDC financier, bringing total payment to Mr Woyome to GH¢58million.
According to the Auditor General's report for the year ending 2010, Mr Woyome received GH¢41,811,480.59 on June 4, 2010 as a 'settlement of claim involving rehabilitation of three stadia' and another payment of GH¢17,094,493.54 on September 22, 2010, bringing the total payment to GH¢58 million for no work done.
Martin Amidu, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, will therefore be leading lawyers from his outfit to challenge that the payment was wrongful, even though his deputy, Ebo Barton Odro, who was part of the initial case, said the State had no defence.
Mr Barton-Odro and other Mills appointees including Alex Segbefia, deputy Chief of Staff at the Presidency, have been defending Woyome, saying that the case was a bad one and that it was better to settle it in favour of the NDC financier in order to cut losses by the State.
Woyome media liaison officer, Benjamin Akyena Brantuo, who had put up a steady defence, works directly under Segbefia at the seat of government, Osu.
Akyena has gone underground since yesterday, with revelations that it was a bad case for Woyome since he had no locus in the stadia rehabilitation as he never led any company to bid for the projects but rather sued in his personal capacity.
The pro-NDC AFRO said the payment to Woyome was scandalous 'The Waterville/Woyome affair is fast earning notoriety as the most reckless public scandal in Ghana's governance history. This is mainly due to the condemnable manner in which the Attorney-General guarded public interest,' AFRO said in a statement.
In a press statement issued yesterday and signed by Lord Koranteng Hammah, Coordinating Secretary of the pro-NDC group, AFRO emphasised: 'It is clear and emphatic, judging from official documents and the ongoing debate that there is a high degree of intelligent opinion that suggests that the Government of Ghana had a case in court.'
According to the group, opposition leaders had raised reasonable views to the effect that government had no financial obligations towards Mr Woyome because the signing of the contract for the construction of Baba Yara, Ohene Djan and El Wak stadia did not necessarily bring the contract into effect.
'Mr Alfred Woyome was not able to meet certain financial obligations which were the key considerations for the award and one of the factors that will have brought the contract into effect.
'There is also the concern about the capacity of the suit filed against government in the personal capacity of Mr Woyome because a company has a separate element of public interest and public accountability,' the group stressed.
The group added that it was highly disappointed that the A-G refused to file a defence, thus causing the state to run into a debt of over GH¢100 million. Yet, Principal State Attorney Samuel Nerquaye-Tetteh, on July 28, 2011, in a writ in court, stated that the failure to file a defence was based on a mistaken belief that there was no defence.
'Already, the Attorney-General had in a hurried manner ensured the payment of over GH¢58 million to Mr Woyome under very suspicious circumstances.
'AFRO would like to question that on such a complicated matter, why did the Attorney General refuse to consult some of the government officials who were in charge of affairs at the time? This development is a great setback in the struggle for the improvement of the standards of public office,' it said.
AFRO added, 'Particularly for the NDC, there is a de-spiritualising effect concerning the fact that the amount paid to Mr Woyome on the 4 th of June, 2010. June 4 is recognised by the NDC as accountability day to celebrate and reflect on the virtues of honest leadership.'
It pointed at the negative influence of 'the so-called money bags in our national politics talking on credulous appellations such as 'party bankrollers.' They introduce a kind of influence that arrests and imprisons popular democracy and positive features and values of political parties'.
'We also condemn government functionaries that have come up to defend the indefensible, particularly the rent-seeking and reckless opportunism of some members of the government communications team, in taking positions on defence of the interest of Mr Woyome,' it stressed.
AFRO stated it shared the genuine anger and frustration of the Ghanaian public upon hearing that a leading member of the government communications team, Benjamin Akyena Brantuo, was now the official press liaison officer of Mr Woyome. Akyena Brantuo was a member of AFRO before he was sacked.
'We salute the courage by thousands of NDC activists in standing up against this unprovoked assault on the cherished values and standard of leadership of their party.
'AFRO commends the vibrant and patriotic role of opposition leaders in defending the national interest. We wish to also commend President Mills for directing the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to investigate the whole affair,' it stated.
By Samuel Boadi