Muda Adelawal, lawyer for embattled businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, had an unforgettable experience at the Supreme Court Tuesday.
The Apex Court slapped him with a cost of GH¢5,000 with a further order for him to pay within two weeks, reports Graphic Online’s court reporter, Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson.
The court also heavily rebuked him for repackaging an application which was dismissed by the court in October 2019, and presenting it before the court again.
The said application had to do with Woyome’s plea for the court to suspend the selling of his assets to defray the GH¢46 million which he owed the state.
In return for the court granting his application, Woyome promised to pay the debt in instalments.
In October 2019, a five-member panel of the court, unanimously refused Woyome’s application which was argued by Lawyer Adelawal.
At that time, Lawyer Adelawal argued that his client was willing to immediately pay GH¢10 million and pay GH¢4 million every 90 days.
The court dismissed the application and held that Woyome had, in the past, made such promises to pay the money in instalments but failed to fulfil them.
Woyome, however, filed another application on the same issue, with this time around, promising to pay GH¢10 million immediately and further pay the rest within 12 months.
In his submission before the Supreme Court Tuesday [January 14, 2019] to prove his client’s case, Lawyer Adelawal was chided and heavily criticised by most of the five members on the panel, reports Graphic Online’s Ebo Hawkson.
The panel was presided over by the Chief Justice, Justice Anin Yeboah, with Justices Julius Ansah, Jones Dotse, Paul Baffoe-Bonnie and Sule Gbadegbe as its members.
Rebuke and criticisms
The court wondered why an application which had been dismissed by the court would be repackaged and presented again before the court.
“Where did you get the impression that you can repeat an application that has been dismissed,” Justice Baffoe-Bonnie asked Lawyer Adelawal, Hawkson reported.
For Justice Gbadegbe, the action by Lawyer Adelawal was an embarrassment and it was a disgrace to him as a lawyer.
Do you know there is something called perception? What perception are you leaving behind? Do not ruin your career because of one case,” Justice Gbagegbe asked.
Justice Dotse reminded Lawyer Adelawal that as far as the courts in Ghana were concerned, his client Woyome had exhausted all legal avenues available to him in relation to the debt that he (Woyome) owed the state.
He, therefore, advised the lawyer to advise his client properly and stop embarrassing himself in court.
“As for clients they will come, but as a professional person, advise your client that what you want to do is not covered by the rules of the court. That will give you respect instead of you embarrassing yourself,” Justice Dotse said.
The rebuke from the court was so heavy to the extent that the Justices even threatened to report Lawyer Adelawal to the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council (GLC) for action, Graphic Online’s Ebo Hawkson reported.
They, however, gave him the option of facing the disciplinary committee of the GLC or paying a cost of GH¢5,000.
“Application is dismissed as unmeritorious, cost of GH¢5,000 is awarded against the applicant. Cost to be paid by the lawyer himself. Cost should be paid within two weeks,“ the Chief Justice ordered.
The Supreme Court, on July 29, 2014, ordered Mr Woyome to refund GH¢51.2 million to the state on 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 CAN 2008.
It was the view of the court that the contracts upon which Mr Woyome made and received the claim were in contravention of Article 181 (5) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, which required such contracts to be laid before and approved by Parliament.
The case leading to the Supreme Court decision was initiated by Mr Martin Amidu, the current Special Prosecutor, in his capacity as a citizen of Ghana.
On March 1, 2016, Mr Woyome prayed the court to give him three years to pay back the money but the court declined to grant his wish.
He, however, refunded GH¢4 million in November 2016 and an additional GH¢600,000 and promised to pay the outstanding balance by quarterly instalments of GH¢5 million, commencing April 1, 2017.
That did not materialise, after the businessman initiated a litany of legal cases at the Supreme Court challenging the decision for him to pay the money or efforts to execute the judgment, which were all dismissed.
Apart from fighting his cases in the country, Mr Woyome also sought relief from the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) based in Paris, France, and the African Court of Justice, based in Arusha, Tanzania.
In August 2017, the ICC threw out his case on the basis that he had failed to properly invoke its jurisdiction.
His case at the African Court of Justice was also dismissed in June last year.
Sale of properties
The state, in its attempt to take over the businessman’s properties, faced certain obstacles, which included a claim by the defunct UT Bank that some of the properties belonged to the bank.
On June 27, 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that the properties were, indeed, for Woyome and ordered their sale to defray the debt he owed the state.
The assets to be sold include two mansions at Trassaco Estate, a house at Kpehe, an office complex of Anator Holdings, a residential building at Abelemkpe and a stone quarry, including its plants and equipment.
The court, with Justice Benin as the sole judge, had held that the properties belonged to Mr Woyome and that the claim by UT Bank that the businessman had sold the two houses at Trassaco Estate to it was a sham.