African Court Throws Out Woyome

Alfred Agbesi Woyome

The
hopes of beleaguered businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome to avoid or at least
delay the refund of the GH¢51.2 million he fraudulently received as judgment
debt have been dashed.

The
African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights based in Arusha, Tanzania, where he
filed a case against Ghana yesterday dismissed the application brought before
it.

In
a unanimous decision, the court held that Mr. Woyome’s right to
non-discrimination, right to equality before the law,
equal protection before the law and his right to be heard by an impartial
tribunal had all not been violated.

Mr.
Woyome was banking his hopes on the possible outcome of the ruling to further
frustrate efforts by the state to retrieve the money which the Supreme Court
ordered him to pay back.

In
his application, Mr. Woyome averred that his right was violated because a
Supreme Court judge, Justice Jones Victor Dotse, had made some personal remarks
against him when he brought the judgment debt case before the apex court for constitutional
interpretation.

At
the time, Justice Dotse had stated that Mr. Woyome had “entered into an
alliance to create, loot and share the resources of this country as if a
brigade had been set up for such an enterprise.”

Mr.
Woyome claimed in his application that this comment denied him the right to be
heard by an impartial tribunal as he lost the constitutional case at the
Supreme Court.

He
pointed to the guarantees of this right as stated under Article 7 of the
African Charter, a document which forms the basis of the African Court on Human
and Peoples’ Right.

Major Ruling

But
the African Court in a unanimous decision held that Justice Dotse although he
wrote the lead judgment on the constitutional matter, he was only one of the 11
judges.

According
to the decision, “The court is of the opinion that a single judge’s remarks
cannot be considered sufficient to taint the entire bench. Furthermore, the
applicant has not illustrated how the judge’s remarks at the ordinary bench later
influenced the decision of the review bench”.

The
court, therefore, dismissed the application brought by Woyome.

Properties Sale

The
Supreme Court presided over by a single judge, Justice Alfred A. Benin, ordered
the state to go ahead and sell four properties of Mr Woyome to defray the debt.

This
was after the court found that Mr Woyome had colluded with defunct UT Bank to
hide the properties from the state.

The
properties include three residential properties – two at Trassaco Valley and
one at Accra Newton as well as a quarry at Mamfi in the Eastern Region.

The
properties, according to Deputy Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, are
estimated to cost at least GH¢20 million.

The
state has also indicated that it has discovered two more properties belonging
to the businessman and will take steps to sell them off.

Payment Plan

Mr.
Woyome has since vowed to fight the decision of the single judge by seeking a
review at the apex court.

Speaking
on Accra-based Kasapa FM, he said he
disagrees with the decision and would seek to have it overturned.

He, however, said should the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Right order that he pay the money, he will sit with the state and come up with a payment plan.

BY Gibril Abdul Razak



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