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General News of Monday, 12 March 2018


Justice Apau must go - Group

Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA), a human rights group, is advocating for Supreme Court judge, Justice Yaw Apau, to resign from the bench for his poor handling of the findings against embattled businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome.

According to the group, it is unfortunate for a judge of his repute to deliberately ignore the basic principle of natural justice to give an accused person a fair hearing before going ahead to condemn him for any wrongdoing.

Justice Yaw Apau, then an Appeals Court judge, was appointed by former President John Dramani Mahama as the Sole Commissioner and made adverse findings against the National Democratic Congress (NDC) financier, Mr. Agbesi Woyome.

He later earned a promotion to the Supreme Court after the judgment debt assignment, with the then NDC government releasing a White Paper on the report of the judgement debt probe dated November 18, 2015.

Justice Apau, who also made adverse findings against then opposition leader, Nana Akufo-Addo, on the drillship saga, ignored requests by the NPP leaders to honour any invitation extended to him to throw light on the issue.

The sole commissioner accused Nana Akufo-Addo of causing financial loss to the state in the GNPC drill ship scandal.

The ship was sold by the Kufuor administration to defray $19.5 million judgment debt owed Societe-General Bank in 2001 when Nana Akufo-Addo was the Attorney General.

Justice Apau, who appears to have been hired to whitewash the John Mahama administration in the numerous judgement debt scandals after which he was promoted to the Supreme Court, indicated that Nana Addo’s “miserable” failure to defend the state in court led to the judgment debt higher than what Ghana would have paid.

It said, “This commission holds the view that the payment of US$19.5 million instead of the US$14 million earlier on agreed, constituted financial loss to the Corporation and Ghana.”

Mr. Apau rejected Nana Akufo-Addo’s request to appear before the commission, just like he failed to invite Woyome.

However, the Court of Appeal last Thursday set aside the findings of the sole commissioner, which stated that Woyome was fraudulently paid the judgment debt.

According to the court, the sole commissioner breached the rule of natural justice when he made adverse findings against the NDC bankroller without inviting him to present his side of the story.

The court however, maintained that the order by the Supreme Court that all monies paid to Woyome and other companies involved in the stadia contract, which were hauled before the Supreme Court be refunded to the state, stands forever.

In a press statement signed by its Executive Secretary, Mensah Thompson and copied to President Akufo-Addo, the Chief Justice, and the Speaker of Parliament ASEP described as “unpardonable” the decision of Justice Apau not to give Woyome a fair hearing, but rather went ahead to condemn the rulings of the high court in his report “without any thorough process.”

It noted that given that Justice Apau’s promotion came against the backdrop of his assignment as sole commissioner, he ought to resign since the report has been discredited.

“Privy to the fact that Justice Apau was appointed to the bench apparently based on the supposed ‘excellent’ job he did as a sole commissioner, then he must with immediate effect resign from the bench because his decisions as per the appeals court ruling may not be quite reliable and we cannot afford some of these goofs at the apex court,” indicated the statement.

It also questioned why Justice Apau based his findings on the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) report without giving Woyome the chance to defend himself when he knew that the EOCO report was an investigative report from a state institution.