I think it is important I make this point clear right from the top. This issue with Woyome should not be politicized in any way. There are legal issues to be explained and those who want to mix the legal with the political are walking a line undeserving of so-called intellectuals on whom the nation has subsidized their educational costs. You realize that most of the folks discussing Woyome seem basically to play the political card and in the process attempt to throw in some bogus legal explanations though they have never sat through a second of law lectures.
I am no lawyer myself, though I have been mistaken by some people for the legal luminary Kwame Gyan of the University of Ghana. So since I am a ‘wannabe lawyer’ who did not fully understand all the rigmarole going on with Woyome and especially what seems to be the confusion Finance Minister, Kwabena Duffour’s letter has added to the mix, I engaged in some back-and-forth with one of the few men who explains Woyomegate in a way even a dumb JSS one will comprehend. Ace Kojo Anan Ankomah has naturally been ‘labeled’ because his explanations tend to make certain people squirm at the thought that the better Ghanaians understand this, the more it upsets them. I am also concerned about whether or not WE WILL GET OUR MONIES BACK! Seriously, we do need it back. I reproduce below the chat I had with Ace.
KG: Have you read the 6th January 2012 letter written by Dr. Kwabena Duffuor to the President on the Woyome matter?
AA: Yes, I have seen and read the letter (on the Internet), but I do not have access to and have not read some of the appendices that he cites, and i will proceed on the basis of the summaries that he made in his letter to the President. And I have followed with keen interest the matter involving the payment of a yet-to-be-fully-ascertained amount of money by the Government of Ghana, acting on behalf of the people of Ghana, to one Alfred Woyome.
KG: So what are your thoughts on this letter?
AA: I am particularly interested in paragraphs 6 to 10 of the letter. In paragraph 6, the Minister says the AG, in early 2010, informed him about Woyome’s claim for compensation for the cost of financial engineering on the mobilization of funds for CAN 2008. In paragraph 7 he says the AG wrote a letter dated 31st March 2010 that she had reached a settlement with Woyome, and requested the Ministry to pay 2% of the amount claimed. In paragraph 8 the Minister says that on 12th April 2010, he wrote to the AG to clarify the claim. In paragraph 8 he says the AG responded on 29th April 2010 to explain the claim and to specifically advise that the 2% be paid, and that the claim was in order. That letter, according to the Minister, also mandated him to negotiate with Woyome on the payment modalities. In paragraph 10, the Minister says when he refused to comply with the AG’s instructions, the AG followed up with a letter dated 28th May 2010, stating that Woyome had gone to court and obtained judgment, with interest and costs, a total of GH¢51,283,480.59.
These paragraphs and a few others stick out like a sore thumb because they lead to many more questions that beg for answers from the Minister, the AG, the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department (CAGD), the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and the Government as a whole. I also have other comments on certain ‘facts’ that did not make it into the Minister’s letter.
KG: Could we discuss these?
AA: Yes. First, I would want to know from the Minister, whether any of these appendices were ‘copied’ to the Office of the President at the time they were written, and before now? Because if those letters were received in the Office of the President, it becomes very difficult to assert that the President did not know of the matter or the payment(s), as the case may be.
Second, a lot of things happened between 31st March 2010 (when the AG wrote to inform the Ministry of an ‘agreement’ to pay the 2% fee to Woyome) and 12th April 2010 (when the Minister wrote to the AG to for clarification) that the Minister does not address in his letter, and if Woyome’s pleadings in court (in the first action) are to be believed. For instance, in paragraph 17 of his Statement of Claim, Woyome claims that the Minister, after receiving the AG’s letter dated 31st March 2010, wrote to the CAGD on 6th April 2010, requesting “the release of funds” to settle Woyome’s claim in “Ghana cedi equivalent of €22,129,501.74.” If this is true, it means that at a time when the Minister lacked “clarity” on the basis of the Woyome claim, and 6 days BEFORE the Minister asked AG for clarification, the Minister nonetheless directed CAGD to make the payment. How was this possible?
KG: But can’t we say, in defence of the Minister, that “better late than never”?
AA: We may say that. However, Woyome claims, in paragraph 18 of his Statement of Claim, that on 7th April 2010, CAGD actually issued a “Bank Transfer Advice… to the Director, Banking Department, Bank of Ghana”, requesting “for the release of funds to pay the sum of Gh¢41,811,480.59.” If this is true, it meant that the request for payment was processed with unusually amazing speed even at the CAGD, at a time when, from the Minister’s letter of 12th April 2010, there was a lack of clarity in respect of Woyome’s claim. Then one would ask on what documentary basis the CAGD processed the claim for payment by Bank of Ghana?
KG: Wasn’t that transaction reversed?
AA: We have been informed by the Auditor-General in his press statement of 15th January 2012 that this transaction was reversed on 13th April 2010. Yet the same Auditor-General captured an actual payment of more than GH¢41 million as having been paid to Woyome on 4th June 2010. This is on page 49, Table 13, Item 23 of his 2010 Report. He now claims that the correspondence on the reversal was not made available to his team of auditors who conducted the audit of public accounts maintained by the CAGD. This raises questions. Who issued this reversal, and was it in writing? What circumstances informed the reversal? Why did the Minister’s letter to the President fail to mention this reversal, and why was a copy not added as an appendix? But I will address this “reversal” later.
If the Auditor-General detected, after he had issued his 2010 Audit Report, that his source of information (the Ministry or the CAGD) did not make critical documents available to him, does he issue a press statement? Or is he expected to issue a supplementary report and in it point out that the relevant “internal control and management measures are inefficient or ineffective” (see section 20 of the Audit Service Act), leading to such documents not being made available to him? And, how was it possible for the Auditor-General to ‘capture’ a payment in his audit report if the money had not actually left the relevant account? Kwame, this is more serious than we think because under section 33 of the Audit Service Act, it is an offence to fail to keep proper records, to give the Auditor-General false information or to willfully suppress information from him. That person could go to jail for up to 2 years! This is no laughing matter, but it becomes laughable when the Auditor-General, instead of exhibiting righteous anger at this development and invoking his wide powers under the law to deal with this matter, meekly issues a near-apologetic ‘mea culpa’ press statement.
Further, the Minister’s 12th April 2010 letter and the 13th April 2010 ‘reversal’ appear to coincide with the Presidential instruction not to pay Woyome, as discovered by the EOCO. This instruction, according to the EOCO, was disobeyed. That raises more questions. Did the Minister receive this instruction or was he even aware of it? Was that instruction in writing, and if so, where is it, and why did the Minister not refer to it in his current letter to the President. Did that instruction inform his actions around this date? Did the Minister’s 12th April 2010 letter precede the Presidential instruction, or vice versa? In view of the Presidential instruction not to pay, did the Minister inform the President, of his subsequent negotiations with Woyome’s lawyers (according to paragraph 11 of his letter), and his authorisation of the payments made to Woyome on 22nd September 2010, 27th January 2011, 8th April 2011 and 12th September 2011?
KG: These are questions that the Minister has to answer. What became of all of the instructions, letters and reversals when Woyome sued?
AA: If we believe the EOCO’s claims about presidential instructions not to pay, as well as the letter seeking clarification and reversal of the payment instruction, then it is safe to assume that these are what drove Mr. Woyome to court. He inferentially confirms this in paragraph 20 of his Statement of Claim as follows: “The plaintiff notes with regret the fact that in spite of the long delay till now and in spite of numerous trips to the offices of the 2nd Defendant, they have refused to pay the money to him in flagrant violation of the Attorney-General’s authorization.”
Woyome sued on 19th April 2010 and the AG was served on 21st April 2010, and entered appearance on behalf of the people of Ghana on 23rd April 2010. Notwithstanding the Presidential instruction, the Minister’s 12th April 2010 letter to the AG seeking clarification, the 13th April 2010 reversal of the payment, the AG failed, refused or neglected to file a Defence for the people of Ghana, only to regret not doing so, claiming belatedly that she was operating under the “mistaken belief” that we had a contract with Woyome, and that consequently we owed Woyome money. That is unbelievable! If the Minister had raised queries and actually stopped the payment, and if the President has instructed that no payment should be made, how on earth could the AG still be operating under the “mistaken belief” that we owed Woyome money at the same time?
That means that by the 29th April 2010 date when the AG responded to the Minister’s 12th April 2010 letter, purporting to provide the clarification that the Minister had sought, the AG knew or ought to have known about the reversal and the Presidential instruction not to pay. By that date she had been served with Woyome’s court documents, and had taken a stance (based on the alleged “mistaken belief”), that she would (in defiance of the Presidential instruction not to pay) not defend the action by not filing a defence. That stance opened the door for Woyome to apply for judgment in default of defence against us, knowing that the AG would not bat an eyelid , let alone lift a finger!
But the further questions for the Minister would be whether the AG informed him of the fact that the suit had been filed, and that she did not intend to defend the action, in defiance of the Presidential instruction not to pay? Did the Minister respond to the AG’s letter at all to remind her of the Presidential instruction, assuming both he and the AG knew of that instruction? If so, what did he say, and where is the relevant letter or correspondence? Critically, did the Minister or the AG ‘copy’ the President on these letters, thereby appraising him about these developments?
KG: In paragraph 10 of the Minister’s letter he speaks, affirmatively of a “refusal” to pay.
AA: Yes, and that is what raises more questions for him to answer. Was this refusal in writing, or was it to be simply implied by his not replying to the Attorney-General’s 29th April 2010 letter? Or is this a reference to the 13th April 2010 “reversal” that we are yet to see?
KG: Woyome got judgment. What could anyone do after that?
AA: Yes, he got judgment, and in our last interaction, we saw how that was the result the AG and her officials going to sleep under their collective “mistaken belief”. But let us focus on what our public officials did or did not do, after the default judgment. I have seen the 28th May 2010 letter that the AG wrote to the Minister, informing him (and by way of the attached “Entry of Judgment” filed by Woyome’s lawyers), that Woyome had secured judgment in a total amount of GH¢105,565,548.24, and that she had succeeded in negotiating a reduction of that judgment sum to the GH¢51,283,480.59. But what the AG did not say in that letter was that after Woyome had filed his case, she sat by, literally unconcerned, as he purported to amend his Writ of Summons, twice (on 4th May 2010 and 6th May 2010), to double the original amount that he sued for, the amount that the AG had, in her 31st March 2010 letter, “authorized” the Minister to pay. We did nothing when Woyome increased his claim from the cedi equivalent of €22,129,501.74, to €44,259,009.48, without offering any factual explanation. The default judgment was therefore obtained on the new amount, only for the AG to negotiate down to the amount she had originally negotiated with Woyome. But this time, on account of the presidential instruction not to pay, and the refusal or reversal, we had to be ‘grateful for small mercies’ and pay a ‘negotiated’ interest in the amount of GH¢9,447,000 and the court-awarded costs of GH¢25,000.
KG: The Minister said he was the one who negotiated with Woyome’s lawyers to pay the debt in three installments.
AA: That is what the Minister says. It is probably true because on 3rd June 2010, the Government entered into a document titled “Terms of Settlement” with Woyome and his lawyers. This was signed on Ghana’s behalf by the AG. It would appear that within days of signing this document, the AG had a belated “Road to Damacus” experience, when she allegedly discovered the 4th May 2005 “Letter of Introduction” written by Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the then Deputy Minister of Finance, for Woyome and Vamed, and addressed to some banks. That letter clearly disclaimed any legal or other responsibility for any contract or deal entered into by either Woyome or Vamed. This letter emanated from the Minister’s Ministry, even before he became Minister. I would want to assume that this letter was on the relevant file(s) in the Ministry because the contrary information will be scandalous. So why was this not brought up the minute the Minister received the AG’s 31st March 2010 letter authorising payment to Woyome? Or did the file(s) and all contents disappear? We have not been told the circumstances that led to discovering this letter so late in the day. But surely, the Minister’s office must have known about this letter. So we might ask the Minister whether he was (or was made) aware of the existence of this letter? If so, when? And did he ever bring this letter to the attention of the AG?
KG: The Minister says he was surprised with the AG went to court to attempt to stop the payment.
AA: Yes he says that he was surprised because this was after he had been made to negotiate payment ranched payment to Woyome. Did he communicate this “surprise” to the President? And, this is probably testimony of a shocking lack of co-ordination between the two key ministries. Here was a Minister who had doubts about the veracity of the Woyome claim and had refused to pay, ignoring the strong protestations of an AG, who sometimes sounded more like Woyome’s lawyer than ours. Subsequently he is presented with a court judgment and he negotiates a post-judgment settlement to pay in three tranches. Within 8 days of the signing of the relevant document to reflect his negotiation, the AG had filed a motion in court to reverse the self-same document, basically because she had discovered the 4th May 2005 letter that could only have emanated from the Ministry of Finance. One would expect that this game-changing discovery would have been the subject of official communication between the AG and the Minister, to facilitate concerted action between the ministries to ensure that we did not pay any monies, and then fight this case to the highest courts of the land. Certainly, that was sufficient ground to move to set aside the default judgment. So the people of Ghana ought to be surprised as the Minister’s expression of surprise. It almost comical to note that the hitherto-willing-to-pay AG and hitherto-unwilling-to-pay Minister had switched positions, without informing each other.
And at this stage, the people of Ghana are entitled to know whether either the Minister or the AG was keeping the President informed of these happenings and developments, in view of the presidential instruction not to pay?
KG: So we paid.
AA: Yes, we paid. After we lost part of the battle not to pay, when the court partially granted/refused the application for stay of execution (this depends on whether you consider the glass as half full or half empty), and we took no steps to appeal against that ruling, and we paid the first GH¢17 million. If we are to believe EOCO, neither the Minister nor the AG informed the President of this payment. Subsequently, after we filed the new action, the AG went to the pre-trial settlement that applies to the Commercial Division of the High Court, received a letter from Woyome’s lawyers demanding the remainder of the money that she was in court to challenge because there was no contract to pay, and she meekly forwarded that letter to the Minister for his “action.” If the EOCO is to be believed, we made as many as three payments over a 9-month period in 2011, without anyone bothering to inform the President. It is important to find out from the Minister whether in making the payments, he even notified the new AG who took over in January 2011. If the monies were paid on Martin Amidu’s blind side, it might very well explain the deep anger that he expressed and the harsh word that he employed in his press statement.
KG: What next?
AA: The ball is in the court of the President, the CID, the courts and CHRAJ. Maybe EOCO will issue a “final” report. I don’t know. That institution is now caught in the throes of making “corrections” to even its “interim” report. But the good people of Ghana whose monies are in question are looking to all of these institutions and the persons who occupy the relevant offices with eagle eyes. It would be a grave mistake if any one assumes or takes it for granted, that Ghanaians would be reticent on this matter. The way this matter pans out in the coming weeks and months will have far-reaching consequences on the direction that this nations moves. It is also a good time to remind Ministers of State of three key ingredients in their oath of office as follows: (i) to well and truly serve Ghana, (ii) to uphold, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, and (iii) to the best of their judgment, and at all times freely give counsel and advice for the good management of the public affairs of the Republic of Ghana. So help us God!
Thanks, Ace. People, indeed God should help us. I pray that we can all appreciate all the madness going on around us and contribute to ensuring that such nonsense never gets repeated in Ghana, our motherland.
My piece of mind; my 1 pesewa!
PO: February 17, 2012