The African Court on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) in Tanzania, has ordered Ghana to suspend all efforts to retrieve the GH₵51.2 million judgement debt paid to businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, until the court determines an appeal filed by the businessman, who argues that his human rights are being abused by Ghana’s Supreme Court.
In a unanimous ruling on November 24, 2017, the 11-member panel ordered Ghana to suspend the seizure of any property belonging to the businessman, “take all appropriate measures to maintain the status quo and avoid the property being sold’’ until the case was determined.
Alfred Agbesie Woyome proceeded to the African Human Rights Court in August 2017, when government began a valuation of his properties in an attempt to retrieve Ghc51 million wrongfully paid to him in a judgement debt.
The Court in a decision by an eleven member panel, said it will be unfair for the state to be allowed to auction Woyome’s properties, since the court could rule in his favour.
“The court finds that the situation raised in the present application is of extreme gravity and urgency on the basis that should the applicant’s property be attached and sold to recover the 51, 283, 480.59, the applicant would suffer irreparable harm if the application on the merits is decided in his favour…”the court said.
“The court finds that the circumstance require that an order for provisional measures be issued, in accordance with Article 27 (2) of the Protocol and Rule 51 of the Rules, to preserve the status quo, pending the determination of the application.”
The ACHPR further ordered Ghana to report to it within 15 days “from the date of receipt of this order on measures taken to implement this order”.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court in Ghana is expected to give its judgment today, Tuesday], on the same matter, where Alfred Woyome is seeking a stay of proceedings until his case at the African Court is dealt with it.
It is unclear whether the decision of the African Court, will have any impact on the outcome from Ghana’s Supreme Court.
Mr. Woyome was paid the GHc 51 million after claiming he helped Ghana raise funds to construct stadia for the hosting of the 2008 African Cup of Nations.
However, an Auditor General’s report released in 2010, held that the amount was paid illegally to him.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court in 2014 ordered Mr. Woyome to pay back the money, after Martin Amidu, a private legal practitioner challenged the legality of the payments.
Following delays in retrieving the money, Supreme Court judges unanimously granted the Attorney General clearance to execute the court’s judgment, ordering Mr. Woyome to refund the cash to the state.
There had been previous attempts to orally examine Mr. Woyome, with Mr. Amidu himself, in 2016, filing an application at the Supreme Court to find out how the businessman was going to pay back the money.
This came after the Attorney General’s office under the Mahama Administration, led by the former Minister for Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, discontinued a similar application.
In February 2017 however, Mr. Amidu withdrew his suit seeking an oral examination, explaining that the change of government and the assurance by the new Attorney General to retrieve all judgment debts wrongfully paid to individuals, had given him renewed confidence in the system.
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In August 2017, Mr. Woyome filed an application at the ACHPR in response to the Supreme Court’s judgement on July 29, 2014 that ordered him to pay the GH₵51.2 million on the grounds that he got the money out of unconstitutional and invalid contracts between the state and Waterville Holdings Limited in 2006 for the construction of stadia for CAN 2008.
He alleged in his application that Ghana did not respect the terms of the agreement that governed the financial engineering role he played in the transaction, and as such his rights and freedoms recognized under the ACHPR Charter had been violated.
He followed the substantive application with another application on July 4, 2017, praying the ACHPR to halt all processes seeking to execute the Supreme Court’s July 29, 2014 judgement, until his case was determined by the ACHPR.