Woyome Fraud; A call for an Independent Prosecution Service in Ghana

Woyome Fraud; A call for an Independent Prosecution Service in Ghana

 

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The Supreme Court on 31/07/2014 unanimously ruled that Alfred Agbesi Woyome had no valid contract and further directed that the businessman refunds the $51.2 million judgement debt paid to him between 2009 – 2011. The seven-member panel presided over by Chief Justice Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood ruled that the National Democratic Congress financier got the money out of an invalid and unconstitutional contract and that there was sufficient evidence available which the Attorney General’s Department could have relied on to prevent this fraudulent payment in the first place.

In its ruling, the court said the contracts upon which he made and received the claim was in contravention of Article 181 (5) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, which requires such contracts to be laid before and approved by Parliament.

The ruling follows a JUDICIAL REVIEW brought before the court by former Attorney General Martin Amidu AKA “Citizen Vigilante” against Alfred Agbes. Mr. Amidu was seeking various reliefs in the two separate cases.
Although the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in his favour in June 2013, Martin Amidu applied for Judicial Review in what he termed a miscarriage of justice.

In that trial, Martin Amidu, who represented himself in court, argued that the Attorney General, who was one of the respondents in the case, facilitated Waterville Holdings’ “unconstitutional” acts in the construction of stadia for the CAN 2008.

The Attorney General, represented by Chief State Attorneys Dorothy Afriyie Ansah and Stella Badu told the court Martin Amidu was “entitled to his reliefs”.

As we have seen, the Attorney General’s office lacks adequate leadership and prosecution skills to carry out effective prosecution to retrieve the state’s coffers from the NDC financier. Martin Amidu is therefore a real brave heart who needs to be honoured and celebrated by the nation for his pivotal role in the Woyome-judgement debt saga.

Since Ghana’s State Prosecution lost the Ghana @ 50 case, the Ya-Na case and now the Woyome-judgement debt saga, I have come to the conclusion that the organisation is “not fit for purpose.” As a lawyer with fourteen years experience, with ten of those years spent as a Crown Advocate (principal prosecutor) in the United Kingdom, now practising in Ghana, I am amazed by the sheer incompetence and amateurish of some of the attorneys representing the state as prosecutors.

From nine months in Ghana I have seen sometimes, they even do not turn up in court and fail to inform the court as a matter of curtsey to avoid waste of time, cost and resources. On some days, they turn up late with no explanation as to why they were late and at times with no file. They often ask for adjournments or “dates” for flimsy reasons and when they are ready, they come across as unprepared and their performance is nothing to write home about.

I cannot believe some of the elementary mistakes they commit in prosecuting cases, as if their main goal is defeat. In some cases, the judge is compelled to give default judgement because the Attorney General Department failed to represent the state at the hearing or put up a defence. The catalogue of inefficiencies by the State Prosecution is beyond comprehension. I guess probably, that is how prosecution is done in Ghana.

The failures, unwillingness or inability of the Attorney General’s Department to prosecute the Woyome case is very disturbing and a risk to case law development and seeking justice for victims of crime in Ghana. They hide behind their incompetence and accuse judges of being bias against the state. I am not defending the judiciary and I have my own suspicion that some judges may also be incompetent and bias against the state for whatever reason.

 Notwithstanding these obstacles the main culprit for the unfavourable judgements against the state is the incompetence by the prosecution from the Attorney General’s office.

 Martin Amidu’s one man crusade demonstrates that for the state to reverse the incompetence and improve the performance of prosecutors there is the urgent need for root and branch reorganisation of the Prosecution Service in Ghana. There is a need for the next government to establish an Independent Prosecution Service similar to that in England and Wales.

How long are we going to allow the Attorney General to wear two hats at the same time? The post holder simply cannot be trusted to advice the government and be expected to prosecute those in government and or associated with the government as demonstrated by the case of Woyome.

I understand the NDC made a manifesto commitment to separate the Attorney General’s Department and Ministry of Justice into an independent Prosecution Service but sadly, like all of their manifesto commitments, has not come into fruition. The separation is absolutely critical not only to improve the prosecution service but also to wean off the political contamination in the prosecution of cases.

Prosecution and trials are not about vengeance and retribution but to demand justice, through transparency, fairness and accountability for all, irrespective of political, religious, tribal affiliation and socio-economic status.

The creation of an Independent Prosecution Service headed by a technocrat capable of making independent decisions devoid of politics on prosecutions is long overdue in Ghana. That should be accompanied by competency based skills training for Prosecutors and adequately resourced. State Prosecution Service should also cast the net wider in search of prosecutors, including instructing private experience Barristers to prosecute high profile and complex cases on behalf of the state. From my observation in the court room in Ghana, it is abundantly clear to me that the defeats suffered by the state at the courts are not due to the state not having good or bad cases but rather more to do with poor prosecution. A typical example is the Ya-Na case. What you see is what you get, chuff in chuff out. I could have done a better job in that case to at least, secured conviction for the victim and his family.

From the above failures, non-attendance at courts, defaults judgements against the state and others, it is obvious that the Prosecution Service or the Attorney General’s Department lacks effective leadership. Perhaps, the Attorney General and Minister for Justice and his lieutenants are too busy with political decisions on the drafting of bills and bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements or even pre-occupied with unrealistic schemes to prosecute and convict political opponents and therefore have no or little time for prosecuting other criminal cases.

Ghana needs a national prosecution service with an independent body to conduct day-to-day operational delivery of successful prosecution and a political head that would report on policy to the minister but be solely responsible for leadership and direction, the development and implementation of strategic policies. A service with skilled, competent and professional prosecutors that would make it feasible for the state to secure successful prosecutions, just like that of our hero, Martin “Citizen Vigilante”
By Godwin Adjei-Gyamfi

Lawyer & Former Prosecutor at Crown Prosecution Service, UK 

PICTURE: Martin Amidu & Godwin Adjei-Gyamfi @ Ghana Supreme Court

 

 

Encroachment of Lake Tesa @ East Legon

Source: Ghana/Prisoral Lens/ Priscilla Selinam Sogah

Date: June 06, 2013

Encroachment of Lake Tesa by some residents of  East Legon has derailed the beauty of the resort which is at the verge of destruction.

The buffer zone of the lake has also been turned into a route for motorist living in the area.

Lake Tesa was created to provide water for the construction of the Accra- Tema motorway in the first republic under Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

Following the completion of the motorway, the Tesa Lake remained a beautiful resort and served as a recreational site for residents.

However, negligence on the part of city authorities and unregulated acts of some citizens have left the legacy of the first president in an undesirable state.

A visit to the lake site revealed that construction of buildings were  ongoing at the buffer zones of the lake.

Some contractors are virtually  filling the lake with heaps of sand from the shore.

The spillage bridge created to aid the flow of water has also been opened to traffic for residents leaving in the area.

The unconcerned posture assumed by local authorities especially the water resources commission and the Environmental Protection Agency is worrisome.

In 2000 the water resources commission following similar complaints from residents of East Legon, set up the lake Tesa committee with representatives from the hydrological service, the environmental protection agency, lands commission, forestry commission , the then tourism board now authority, the Tema metropolitan assembly and the east Legon extension land owners.

But what has been the outcome of the innumerable meetings held and allowances taken for each sitting.

As it stands the main drainage system close to the Tesa dam has become a dumping site for residents.

A well- meaning resident out of concern and patriotism was compelled to put up a sign  post to ward off unauthorized activities by some residents.

As we commemorate environmental world day we call on the water resources commission and the environmental protection agency to be proactive in protecting our water bodies.

Lack of Central Data Base Accounts for Ghana’s 7th Position in Cyber fraud

 Source:Ghana/Prisoral Lens/ Priscilla Selinam Sogah

Date: August,05,2013

    Computer Lab 

Lack of a central database and a national domain to regulate the inflow of online information has accounted for the increase in cyber fraud in Ghana.

A cyber security expert, Nii Armah Tagoe is warning that Cyber crime if not checked , can be detrimental to the socio-economic development of Ghana.

Ghana has been ranked 7th in cyber fraud in the world. This has triggered sentiments about the negative effect this status can have on the socio economic development of the country.

With an internet penetration growth rate of about 10% percent the services sector is the major contribution to Ghana’s GDP.

Access to internet according to communication experts drives the services industry.

Online business transaction is gradually overriding the traditional mode of business operations.

A cyber-security Consultant, Nii Armah Tagoe says there is a possible socio-economic shut down since the country does not have a strong cyber inspection database.

Corporate institutions have also been urged to invest in cyber professionals in order to guard against cyber fraud.
The proliferation of internet cafés and the lack of a robust national domain accounts for Ghana’s cyber fraud status.

Measures therefore need to be put in place to tackle the situation.

AU AND ICC CONTROVERSY

Source: Ghana/Prisoral Lens/ Priscilla Selinam Sogah

Date: October 14, 2013

ICC

Members of the African Union have in recent times castigated the International Criminal Court for what they say is apparent selective prosecution of African leaders and portraying the continent as a hub of atrocious crimes.

However, a governance expert believes the absence of local capacity and the unwillingness of African political leaders to chastise their own have empowered the ICC in this regard.

Electoral violence has over the years plagued most parts of the African continent. One can easily make mention of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Somalia as victims and more recently Mali, Ivory Coast and Kenya unrest.

All these uprising were not without atrocities against humanity as women and children often become victims in the aftermath of these occurrences.

It is against this backdrop that the International Criminal Court was set up to adjudicate cases involving genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

As it stands, ICC remains the only permanent criminal court in the world with the authority to arbitrate when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute.

Currently, 122 states are parties to the Roman statutes of the International criminal court of which 34 of them are African states.

However, in recent times some African leaders have criticized the International Criminal Court for targeting only Africans. Others also have described the actions of the ICC as political witch hunting.

Currently the ICC has opened investigations into eight cases in Africa.

The ongoing trial against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto for criminal charges against humanity has further fueled controversies in this regard.

Following this development, Kenyan parliament last month voted to withdraw their membership to the Roman statutes of the ICC to register their displeasure.

So the question many consider unanswered is should the rest of the 34 African states who are parties to ICC pull out?

The Deputy Director at Amnesty International, Tawanda Hondora in an article published on the Mail & Guardian Website hinted that any move by Africans in this regard would betray the ideals of the African Union.

However governance expert, Baffuor Agyeman Duah believes not all Africans are in support of the proposed withdrawal from the ICC.

Meanwhile Former Defence minister, Dr Kwame Addo Kuffuor and NDC legal team member, Victor Kwadjoga Adawudu have been expressing their opinion on the subject.

According to Dr. Addo Kuffuor the lack of local capacity and the political unwillingness on the parts of African leaders has given the ICC the leeway to act.

Contrarily, a member of the NDC legal team Victor Kwadjoga Adawudu disagrees with the earlier position and cited the election petition hearing in Ghana as a clear case of judicial competence in Ghana.

Meanwhile the AU has announced a special summit to be held in October this 2013 to further deliberate on matters of justices and issues concerning the international criminal court.

In a similar development the International Criminal Court has come out to refute  allegations by the African Union.

 

TAXES IN FIRST HALF OF 2013-GHANA

MARKET  The year 2013 has been characterized with new taxes to reduce the rate at which government
expenditure is outstripping its revenue generated.
However, sections of the public have expressed concern about the series of taxes imposed in the first half of the year.
This report highlights new taxes passed by parliament this year.
The business of parliament since January has mainly centered on tax approval and amendment.
This was in fulfillment of the Finance Minister’s promise in the 2013 budget to fall on legislators to enact new taxes so as to stabilize the
Ghanaian economy.
Among taxes imposed include the special import levy which seeks to impose special import charges on some selected imported goods at
the point of entry from now to 2015.  Per this new tax 1% of cost insurance freight value is charged on machinery and equipment which
includes cutlasses and outboard motors.
Also a 2% charge has been imposed on all other goods imported except petroleum products.
Though the importation of cutlasses, outboard motors and fertilizers through the Ministry of Agriculture are exempted, private companies
who share the same goal with the Ministry of Agriculture may be spared.
Government Tax policy Adviser in an interview revealed that private individuals may be exempted from this tax should they follow the
procedure of tax exemption by notifying the Sector Minister.
Another tax which generated so much controversy is the amendment of portions of the Communication Service Tax act 754 passed in 2008
to make room for government to generate extra revenue from the communication sector.
The educational sector was not spared as the wind of taxes blew on private institutions that now by law are required to pay 25% of profit
earned as corporate tax.
Mr. Larbi Siawu, government tax policy adviser explains the rational for taxing not only private universities as has been reported but all
private tertiary institutions.
According to Mr. Siaw, private educational institutions are run on commercial basis. And in as much as private businesses are taxed it is
appropriate for owners of private educational institutions to pay tax on profit earned.
The 5% stabilization levy also passed by parliament this year requires some specified companies like Banks, Insurance companies,
Breweries, Telco’s, Mining and Shipping companies to pay 5% of profits accrued to raise revenue for the fiscal stabilization of the economy.
The Ghana revenue authority also re-launched the 8% rent tax to remind land lords and ladies of their civic duties.
Government’s wage bill which stood at 4billion cedis  4 years ago according to the tax policy adviser of Government, Dr. Edward Siaw Larbi
has ballooned to 7billion making the imposition of new taxes a necessary evil.
Meanwhile a section of the public have expressed missed feelings about these taxes.
some are of the view that these new taxes will cripple private business. But others say the new taxes will enable Government carry out its
development agenda.
However, these new taxes according to Dr. Siaw will also guard against the depreciation of the cedi and put government in a comfortable
economic position to develop the country.

GHC 686MILLION FUNDING GAP ACCOUNTS FOR POOR ROADS- ROAD FUND SECRETARIAT

Government’s inability to maintain roads across the country has been attributed to a funding gap of GHC 686 million.

According to the Director of the road fund secretariat, Franklin Agbanator, this is as a result of a shortfall in revenue generation by the Ministry of Roads and Highways.

road bad

Motorists  continue to complain about the poor nature of roads scattered across the length and breadth of the country.

Their complaints are as a result of the irregular maintenance of bad  roads.

It is common to see several pot holes while using the roads in Accra and other parts of the country.

Most of these roads have not seen any maintenance since they were constructed.

Typical examples of such roads are the Teshie-Nungua bush road and the Tema  license office road.

Drivers who ply these deplorable roads have often complained about the damages these roads cause to their vehicles.

Yet not much is being done to address the concerns of these motorists.

Although according to the Ghana road fund secretariat there has been an addition of 29000 kilometers of road network between 2005 till present, revenue generated is inadequate to meet the expectation of road maintenance required.

Mr Franklin Agbnator, Director of the Road Fund Secretariat says in 2012, the secretariat generated only 234million which represent one-third of total revenue expected.

in addition to revenues generated from road tolls the secretariat draws revenue from road worthy fees, fuel levies etc.

SHAKE OFF THE STRESS

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Irrespective of it being a medical condition, it has become a regular verb in the speech of most active people. A condition capable of affecting both the mental and physical being of a person, stress, is what it is.

Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upsets your balance in some way. It is what you feel when you have to handle what you are not used to.

The body responds to stress as though one is in danger. In such situations, the hormonal gland produces hormones like adrenaline which speeds up heart beat and make one breath at a faster pace. Such a response is referred to as the fight-to-fight stress response.

To many, stress is commonplace so it has become a way of life.

However, the level of stress determines how harmful it is to one’s health. Stress isn’t always bad. In small doses it can help you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best. But when you are constantly running in emergency mode, your mind and body pays the price.

Stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When actively engaged in a task, it helps you stay focused, alert and energetic. In emergency situations, stress can save your life – giving you extra strength to defend yourself.

The stress response also helps you to meet challenges. It is what keeps you on your toe during presentation at work or school. Interestingly, it is been revealed that stress can also drive one to learn for exam when you would rather be watching television.

Beyond a certain point stress ceases to be helpful and begins to cause major damage to one’s health, mood, productivity, relationships and your quality of life by weakening ones immune system.

A day never passes without hearing “I am stressed” followed with a yawn -aahww. But, have you considered the varying diseases associated with it?

Research reveals that stress can cause high blood pressure, shingles, eczema, anxiety, headache- primary or secondary; migraine, tension & cluster, sty, a tender, painful red bump located at the base of an eyelash or inside, or under the eyelid, muscle spasms, back pain, upset stomach, and constipation. It is also linked to depression, heart diseases and asthma.

Besides being stressed is not the end of life, it can be controlled by adhering to the following guide.

  • Have enough rest
  • Eat balanced diet
  • Avoid smoking
  • Limit your alcohol intake
  • Try out new ways of thinking and let go things that you cannot change
  • Express your feelings and don’t bottle up your worries
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