The African Court on Human & People’s Rights will on Tuesday, 8th May, 2018 begin a public hearing of the long-standing case between the Republic of Ghana and businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
Alfred Agbesi Woyome filed the case with the African Court for Human
The Republic of Ghana signed to the African Charter on Human & People’s Rights on 1st March, 1989 and to the protocol to the African Charter on Human & People’s Rights on the establishment of an African Court on Human & People’s Right on 16th August, 2005. It deposited on 6th March, 2011 a Declaration under Article 34(6) of the Protocol, accepting the jurisdiction of the Court to receive cases from individuals and Non-Governmental Organisations.
Background of the Case
Following the award of the right to host CAN 2008, invitation to tenderers to express interest in the procurement of Goods, Works and Services was published on 6th January, 2005. On the bidding process for the CAN 2008, deadlines and stiff conditions were set. The stadia were to be built on a “turn-key” basis, which means that the successful bidder should not only have the technical capacity to design and build the stadia, but must be able to provide the funding to do so. This in effect meant that by virtue of the terms of the invitation to bid, bidders were authorized or obliged to seek for funds.
At the time Ghana was declared HIPC and could not borrow, Alfred Woyome led the Vamed/M-Powapak consortium to raise over a billion euro with a letter of support from Bank Austria, guaranteed by the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) of the of the World Bank, having spent about Euro 18 million in the process. At the end of the 7-month long bidding process, the Vamed/M-Powapak consortium was adjudged the best and had won the bid. A report from the bidding committees was submitted to the Central Tender Review Board (CTRB), which gave their concurrent approval. At this stage, the international bidding was abrogated, which was a clear interference with the bidding process, governed by the Procurement Act.
Since 2005, after the cancellation of the bid, Mr. Woyome has pursued the government of Ghana for compensation for successfully raising Euro 1,106,470,587.48 from Bank Austria for the construction of stadia, medical facilities, irradiation plant and tissue culture facilities ahead of the CAN 2008.
In 2010, Mr. Woyome brought a suit against the Attorney General. In that suit, by his writ of summons and statement of claim, sought the following:
a. An order for the payment of Euro 44,259,009.48 or its cedi equivalent at the forex exchange rate representing cost of services rendered by him for the Government of Ghana.
b. An order for the payment of Euro 11,600,289.44 being accrued interest on the sum of Euro 44,259,009.48 from September 2005 up to April, 2010 at the rate of Eurobar 1 year plus three points.
c. Interest on the sum of Euro 44,259,009.48 or its equivalent at the current exchange rate of Eurobar 1 year plus three points from May 1, 2010 up to the conclusive date of final payment.
d. Costs, including lawyer’s fees.
The court entered judgment for Mr. Woyome, upon which he filed an entry of judgment for the sum of GHc 105,565,548.24 consisting of the following:
a. The cedi equivalent of Euro 44,259,009.48 – GHc 83,622,961.38
b. The cedi equivalent of interest of Euro 11,600,289.44 – GHc 21,917,586.86
c. Cost of GHc 25,000
The Attorney General thereafter resorted to negotiations and negotiated with Mr. Alfred Woyome to accept judgment in the total sum of GHc 51,283,480.59 (GHc 41,811,480.59 plus interest of GHc 9,447,000.00 and a cost of GHc 25,000) payable in three tranches.
Upon payment of part of the said amount, he was accused of fraudulently obtaining the money from the state. The case was filed at the High Court with two (2) charges: defrauding by false pretense and causing financial loss to the state. He won the case against the state for these charges at the High Court of Accra.
“The trial judge after going through the evidence placed before him found the respondent [Mr. Woyome] not guilty of the offence of defrauding by false pretences and acquitted him accordingly. He did likewise in respect of the offence of causing financial loss to the state. We would understand and assess the trial judge’s conclusion better if we acquaint ourselves, even if in brief, with the evidence that was placed before him.”
The first witness of the prosecution was Mangowa Ghanney. She told the court that somewhere around March 2010 a letter from the Attorney General’s department was referred to her by her boss, the Minister of Finance, Kwabena Duffour for payment of 2% of a settlement amount of 22 million Euros to the respondent [Mr. Woyome]. The letter, [exhibit 2], gave justification for the payment.”
The next witness of the prosecution was Mr.[Hon.] Yaw Osafo Maafo, who was at the time of the instant case the Minister for Education & Sports and therefore had a lot to do with the CAN 2008. He narrated to the court the tendering processes for the construction of the Stadia for the tournament and who won the bid. The tender [according to him] was won by Vamed led by the respondent [Mr. Woyome].”
“Witness told the court that the financial and technical committees, which worked on the tender recommended Vamed/M-Powapak [consortium] as the most responsive and their documentation was sent to the Central Tender Review Board [CTRB] and given concurrent approval. This tendering process was however truncated by cabinet. After the termination, the state had to go through sole sourcing for the award of contract for the construction of the Stadia. Witness also admitted there was a Letter of Support from Bank Austria, which formed part of the financial proposals of M-powapak/Vamed and that his entity Tender Committee and the Central Tender Board approved Vamed/M-Powapak for the job. He however said as at the time of the cancellation, no official contract was signed between the parties.”
The government not satisfied with the High Court’s ruling, filed a case at the Court of Appeal, but Mr. Woyome won again. The case was then brought before the Supreme Court, the highest court of the land. The Supreme Court ruled that the payment to Mr. Woyome was unconstitutional and that he should refund the money back to the state. Mr. Woyome believed the Supreme Court erred in its ruling, but paid part of the money to the state under duress in obedience to the Supreme Court’s order until he brought the case before the African Court.
Alfred Agbesi Woyome is a businessman, philanthropist and a retired diplomat. He was a Security Intelligence Consultant with the late Muammar Al Gadaffi of Libya for over a decade before returning to Ghana to work as the Honorary Vice Consul for the government of Austria in Accra.
The public hearing of the case will be streamed live on Tuesday, 8th May, 2018 at 7:00a.m. Ghana time or 10:00a.m Tanzania time on YouTube www.youtube.com/user/africancourt or on www.african-court.org.