President John Evans Atta Mills has taken the fight over the controversial judgment debt of GHï¿½58million paid to the self-acclaimed financier of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Alfred Agbesi Woyome, to the doorstep of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Speaking on Accra-based Radio Gold yesterday, President Mills said, ï¿½ï¿½and the payment, perhaps, as further step, we have to find out who incurred the liability because if the court awarded the judgment or awarded the cost, whatever it is, itï¿½s a way of saying that the beneficiary is entitled to it,ï¿½ in virtual reference to the erstwhile New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration, under whose regime Woyomeï¿½s so-called ï¿½contractï¿½ was supposed to have been abrogated without cause.
ï¿½ï¿½who made it possible for that beneficiary to be entitled to that amount?ï¿½
For this reason, the President said, ï¿½we have to look critically at the issue. When were these debts incurred and who were responsible?ï¿½ he asked rhetorically.
The President had asked the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to probe the scandal and other judgment debts running into trillions of Cedis.
EOCO, which is investigating the ï¿½strangeï¿½ circumstances under which those judgment debts were incurred, in the meantime, had directed the Bank of Ghana to freeze the bank accounts of Mr Woyome, the largest beneficiary of the largesse.
That notwithstanding, the President said the target for his call for investigations into the affair was not necessarily Woyome; but those whose actions or inactions might have caused the nation the loss of a whopping three trillion Cedis in judgment debts, as captured in the Auditor Generalï¿½s report.
ï¿½I would want to tell the beneficiaries that I am not out to embarrass them; no, the allegation was made that Mr Woyome was paid because he was NDC. I want the whole of the country to know that since we came to power we have paid a lot of judgment debts, and the country must know the size of those debts, who incurred them,ï¿½ Mills said.
But Presidential Candidate of the NPP Nana Akufo-Addo, the Managing Editor of ï¿½The Insightï¿½ newspaper Kwesi Pratt Jnr, General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Kofi Asamoah, a human rights lawyer and anti graft advocate Prof Ken Attafuah and a host of others had all criticised the Presidentï¿½s decision to let EOCO investigate the scandal.
They believed an enquiry by the body could somehow be compromised since the operations of EOCO come under the direct ambit of the Attorney General (A-G), saying it was a clear case of conflict of interest because the A-G was neck-deep in the Woyome affair.
Moreover, the deputy A-G, Ebo Barton-Odro, had ruled out the possibility of the state making a good case and therefore predetermined it.
The opposition leader, Nana akufo-Addo, who spoke to journalists in Accra on Thursday, said, ï¿½I support the call of the Minority of an independent committee of inquiryï¿½, stressing the need for those placed in positions of responsibility to defend the interest of the country at all times.
ï¿½I think we can see that these are not normal times and it is entirely in order for us to let people have a clear understanding that those who have been put in authority to look after the moneys of our country are doing so in a responsible and accountable manner,ï¿½ he noted.
Nana Addo and the other personalities asked for the setting up of a truly independent body to investigate the scandal.
For Kwesi Pratt, ï¿½the bottom line is it needs investigation- a full-scale investigation by an independent committee of enquiry to answer these questions because more than $30 million is at stake and we donï¿½t have to take it for grantedï¿½.
He asked rhetorically: ï¿½How come Attorney General went for an injunction that they should pay first tranche but you paid all the tranches?ï¿½
Addressing a press conference in Parliament House last week, Minority Leader Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu asked President John Evans Atta Mills to show Mrs Mould-Iddrisu, currently Minister of Education, the exit route for being ï¿½negligent, reckless and unprofessionalï¿½ in the handling of the court case, leading to the payment of GHï¿½58 million to Mr Woyome for no work done.
Mr Mensah-Bonsu wondered why Mr Woyome ended up pocketing GHï¿½58 million when the court had ordered the payment of GHï¿½41.8million.
The NPP Minority in Parliament had asked President Mills to fire then Attorney General, Betty Mould-Iddrisu for authorising the payment to Woyome when he had no contract with the state.
According to the Auditor Generalï¿½s report for the year ending 2010, Mr Woyome received GHï¿½41,811,480.59 on June 4, 2010 as a ï¿½settlement of claim involving rehabilitation of three stadiaï¿½ and another payment of GHï¿½17,094,493.54 on September 22, 2010, bringing the total payment to the NDC bankroller to GHï¿½58 million for no work done.
The payment to Mr Woyome, according to the Minority, was nothing short of fraud, and a case of causing financial loss to the state.
Woyome, a self-styled financier of the NDC, had no contract with Government of Ghana (GoG) because he never bid in his personal capacity and or entered into any contract with the government to construct any stadium in Ghana between 2001 and 2006, the Minority indicated.
They said it was strange that Betty would allow the case to go on without putting up a defence to challenge the fraudulent claims made by Woyome, tasking the President to institute a public hearing to be viewed on national television for the whole country to see how the country was short-changed.
Source: Charles Takyi-Boadu/Daily Guide
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