Businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome got a bigger platform Tuesday in his legal battle with the state, as he presented his case before the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) in Arusha, Tanzania.
It was an opportunity that his lawyers used to press home the businessman’s repeated claim that his rights were violated per the Supreme Court decision on July 29, 2014 that ordered him to refund GH¢51.2 judgement debt paid to him by the state.
In his submission before the ACHPR, lead counsel for Woyome, Mr Kweku Osafo-Buabeng, accused the Supreme Court of not being impartial in the handling of the Woyome case and also not giving his client a fair hearing.
Counsel particularly singled out Mr Justice Jones Dotse, one of the justices of the Supreme Court that sat on the Woyome case, for describing the payment of GH¢51.2m to his client as “create, loot and share’’.
Mr Woyome went to the ACHPR in January 2017 in response to the judgement of the Supreme Court of Ghana on July 29, 2014 that ordered him to pay the GH¢51.2m 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 the African Cup of Nations (CAN) 2008.
That was after his numerous attempts to stop the state from retrieving the money had been thrown out by the law courts in Ghana
Mr Woyome alleged in his application that the manner in which he was ordered to repay the money violated his rights under the ACHPR Charter.
Create, loot and share
Expanding his argument, Mr Buabeng said Mr Justice Dotse had been part of the ordinary bench of the Supreme Court that had first dismissed the case brought against Mr Woyome on June 14, 2014.
Mr Dotse, counsel said, used the “create, loot and share” tag to describe the payment in the Supreme Court’s decision on June 14, 2014.
He added that the judge showed his prejudice against his client by repeating the same description in the review decision on July 29, 2014 that ordered Mr Woyome to pay the money.
“The learned judge had indicated his disdain for the applicant (Woyome). If a judge of the Supreme Court describes the applicant (Woyome) in a matter that has come before him for constitutional interpretation as “create, loot and share” and subsequently is involved with the applicant (Woyome) in the same matter, his mind will be prejudiced.
“We contend that the applicant (Woyome) was not given a fair trial,’’ Mr Buabeng submitted.
He further argued that at the time the case was initiated at the Supreme Court, there were civil proceedings at the High Court.
The decision of the Supreme Court, he said, therefore, denied his client the opportunity to put his case across in the civil case.
“The Supreme Court, with respect, cannot have said to have upheld the right of the applicant to a fair trial and was also impartial. In effect, the court truncated the civil matter pending before the High Court, even though the jurisdiction that had been invoked was purely for constitutional interpretation,’’ counsel said.
But, in his response, a Deputy Attorney-General (A-G), Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, described Mr Woyome’s application as lacking merit and procedurally incompetent.
On the issue of procedure, he said Mr Woyome failed to seek any redress in law courts in Ghana over his alleged claims of human rights violation, as stipulated by law, before marching to the ACHPR.
“If the Supreme Court, in his estimation, had violated his human rights, the applicant could have applied to the Supreme Court for determination,’’ he said.
He also argued that Mr Woyome failed to file his application within a reasonable time, as stipulated by the rules governing the ACHPR.
The Deputy A-G said the decision by the Supreme Court that formed the basis of Mr Woyome’s application was delivered in 2014, but Mr Woyome filed his application at the ACHPR in 2017
“Reasonable time had been interpreted internationally to mean six months of the occurrence of the alleged contravention,’’ he argued.