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24 April 2014

Justice Apau bemoans reckless ghana judgement debts.

The Sole Commissioner of the Judgement Debt Commission, Mr Justice Yaw Apau, has cautioned that the country risked being continuously saddled with reckless judgement debts, if the activities of certain individuals who usurped the powers of state institutions were not checked.

He wondered why state institutions existed to perform certain functions as directed by the various legal regimes setting them up, yet, on occasions, certain individuals had arrogated onto themselves the powers of those institutions.

Cry for posterity

“These things must stop but when they continue I can only cry for posterity,” he stressed.

Mr Justice Apau gave the warning when Mr David Ofosu-Dorte of AB & David Law firm appeared before the commission to give evidence in the case between Construction Pioneers (CP) and the government of Ghana/Ministry of Roads and Highways, in which yet-to-be-quantified sums of money were paid by the government to CP through arbitration.

Mr Ofosu-Dorte told the commission that his firm, which acted as consultants to the Attorney-General’s Department, was tasked with unravelling the preliminary issues that underpinned the payment of the amounts.

Harassment and frustration

He contended that throughout the arbitration process, the then Attorney-General, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and his deputy, Madam Gloria Akufo, tried to contest the case of CP in court but they were all the time harassed and frustrated by Mr James Quarshie, who was a director of special duties at the Ministry of Finance.

According to him, at any time that the AG’s Department was making progress, Mr Quarshie would come in and say “Castle” says otherwise, adding that “he made the work almost impossible”.

Ultimately, Mr Ofosu-Dorte claimed, his outfit pulled out of the engagement with the AG’s Department and later when the issue went for arbitration, Mr Quarshie was presented as the principal witness for the state when he was not even part of the process.

Mr Quarshie, he noted, played “unwarranted” roles and “for him to have been the principal witness for Ghana, might have no doubt done Ghana in”.

Powerful connections

Mr Ofosu-Dorte also told the commission that he worked with CP in fear because it appeared that CP had access to certain powerful and unseen persons at the seat of government whom they dealt with.

At certain times, he recollected, the technocrats, who knew the right thing, tried doing it, but the politicians would tell them otherwise, adding that meanwhile because the politicians did not want to commit themselves, they only gave the directives verbally.

He stated that the rates that CP charged for their work fell outside those of the Ghana Highway Authority and that, according to him, was because CP did not get the contracts through competitive bidding.

For him, it was shocking that in 2001 while the AG’s Department was feverishly pursuing the arbitration matters with CP, new contracts were given to CP by the then government on the blindside of the AG.

Reshuffle of ministers

In the opinion of Mr Ofosu-Dorte, the frequent changes of ministers at the AG’s Department had also not worked in the interest of the case, saying that although reshuffles were necessary, consideration must be given to peculiar situations, since a change in portfolio often resulted in loss of institutional memory.

Rare case

In another development, it came to light that Ms Gloria Boadu had been given an intravenous infusion at the Asamankese Hospital in the Eastern Region which had led to complications.

Consequently, she initiated a suit for damages in the sum of GH₵5,000 but the AG’s Department went for an out-of-court settlement and ended up paying her GH₵30,000.



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