Former second deputy speaker of parliament Prof Mike Ocquaye has singled out former Finance Minister Dr Kwabena Duffuor for praise, as far as the GHS51.2 million judgement debt, which was fraudulently paid to businessman Alfred Woyome, is concerned.
According to Prof Ocquaye, Dr Duffuor – apart from late President John Mills who ordered a freeze on the payment – was the only serving government official at the time who saw something wrong with the payment.
“This is a payment that the president of the republic says: ‘…Don’t pay’…yet it was paid. … The Minister of Finance, Dr Duffuor, he saw that the thing was not clear, in fact he is not an authorising agent…as for him, he pays upon direction, but he queried it, not only verbally, but he followed it up in writing; a good servant that he is, he followed it up in writing, showing why this was not possible under the circumstances,” Prof Ocquaye said in an interview with Ekow Mensah-Shalders on Class91.3fm’s Executive Breakfast Show on Monday March 21.
“Why didn’t they listen to their Finance Minister? It’s on record he queried it, but they said: ‘No, Pay! Why? Because, otherwise, the government will face embarrassment and they’ll take sanctions against the government in court’. Well, in the final analysis, he [Duffuor] is not a lawyer and then he paid.
“Who were the forces that won’t listen to the president and will not listen to the finance minister and were putting pressure on everybody to pay? Who are those people? They should all be found out and they should all be brought to court collectively, and then a man like Dr Duffuor, who has said his truth in the newspapers, not in court, will also have the opportunity to go and tell the truth because some people want to speak the truth. Who are those people who don’t want the truth to come out? They, too, they are there, this is the essence of the Woyome matter,” Prof Ocquaye said.
In his estimation, the Government has been using the Attorney General’s department to cover up for Mr Woyome.
The Court of Appeal recently upheld the acquittal of Mr Woyome, as far as criminal cases filed against him in connection with the payment are concerned. The Supreme Court, however, ruled last year that Mr Woyome must refund the money to the state since he got it fraudulently. He has yet to do so. Recently, he pleaded with the Court to allow him refund the amount in instalments within 36 months.
The former Dome Kwabenya MP said if former Chief State Attorney Mr Nerquaye-Tetteh, and two others, who were earlier charged in the case together with Mr Woyome, had not been let off the hook through a nolle prosequi filed by the Attorney General, the truth would have been out by now.
“The Attorney General on the directive of the government, set out, ab initio – from the very beginning – to let Woyome go free. I agree with what Rawlings said presently; it was a conspiracy to rob the people of Ghana of the truth. They charged a Chief State Attorney and some other officials, is that not so? … A huge sum of money landed in his [Chief State Attorney’s] wife’s account …they chopped the money, so, Agbesi Woyome’s over 100,000 or something, big sum, went to him. Why? Then this person, if he had also remained charged … the truth would have come [out] in court. Ask him what documents the man brought? Under what circumstances they paid? And so on and so forth and everything would have become clear.
“When they sat down and they saw that now everything will become clear, and the people of Ghana will know the truth, what did they do? The Attorney General went and filed nolle prosequi, which means no more prosecution. Why did she do that? Under whose direction did she do that? She could only have been directed by the president – the only person who directs the Attorney General. And for what reason? The reason is clear: in order to do political cover-up, so that people like the former Attorney General Madam Mould, their role will not come out because now only Woyome is in the court, so, like we lawyers say: ‘This is like a bat wandering in the air, it can never land’…who are they fooling? It’s all part of the ‘create, loot and share’ by NDC.”
It is recalled that former Attorney General, Mr Martin Amidu, on August 11, 2012, issued a statement questioning why the three other suspects were let off the hook while Mr Woyome was being treated as “a sacrificial lamp”.
He wrote thus: “The circus that started with the arrest of Mr. Woyome and 3 others by the police; their being charged before the High Court; the several adjournments and promises of a trial; and the eventual discharge of all the accused on 5th June 2012; and the subsequent immediate re-arrest of Mr. Woyome alone for trial needs to be explained to the public. Did Mr. Woyome walk alone to the Bank to defraud Ghana of GH¢51 million plus? Did any other person(s) facilitate the commission of the suspected fraud? Were there supporting documents and letters from any accomplices that convinced the Attorney-General of the veracity of settling the claim and ordering payments? In this regard, several letters and documents published by the “New Crusading Guide” newspaper which are not on the incomplete file in the Attorney-General’s Office point to collusion and collaboration. The Attorney-General’s main file was said to have been missing since 2006 and the case was settled without even any of the signed contracts between Waterville and the Government of Ghana on the files of the Attorney-General’s Department.
“In this Mr. Woyome case, Mr. Nerquaye-Tetteh, Chief State Attorney, was working under me and in charge of the Woyome case urging me in November 2011 to withdraw the case from Court for a settlement. As late as December 2011 he was urging me to sign a letter to the Minister of Finance to facilitate the withdrawal of the case and the payment of an additional GH¢9 million plus to Mr. Woyome as interest which I refused to sign. The Economic and Organised Crime Report reveals that his wife’s account was credited with GH¢400,000.00 in June 2011 while Mr. Nerquaye-Tetteh was still the Chief State Attorney in charge of the case. Both he and his wife have been discharged by the Attorney-Generals’ entry of nolle prosequi without any explanation whatsoever and are at liberty to leave the jurisdiction. But this is the key person upon whom the Attorney-General, whom, the Government and Parliament knew from day one, had never practised seriously before any Court of record, depended upon in the whole transaction.”