The Chairman of NPP UK Mr. Hayford Atta-Krufi has stated that decision by the Cabinet to approve of the payment of all judgement debts above GH¢10 million ceiling is yet another attempt to hide the incompetence of the government and its legal team to proactively fight the judgement debt corruption canker. He was speaking on the programme ( Ade akye abia ) on Sources Radio UK in London on Saturday.
“It will be wrong for the cabinet to decide whether or not to approve of judgement debts. It would mean cabinet having supervisory powers over the judiciary and that will be the last nail in the coffin of separation of powers and hence the death of our hard won democracy. This is another attempt by the cabinet to control and hence water down independence of the judiciary as they have attempted to do in the case of Jake's bungalow saga.”
This response from the NPP UK chairman came in the wake of the government announcement that cabinet has directed that all judgement debts and claims above GH¢10 million should be submitted to it for approval prior to final settlement and payment. However, the report said, the Attorney-General "may settle claims up to an upper limit of GH¢ 1 0 million without the prior approval of Cabinet".
Asked whether it is not a case of morality against legality, Mr Atta-Krufi asked “whose morality? Morality is the Attorney General assembling a good team of lawyers who are paid fat salaries out of the public purse to go and fight the judgement debt cases in the first place. You don't sit in a shady backroom invite people and companies that have done no work and agree to pay judgements to them and come and talk about cabinet approval. That is double standards”
It will be recalled that in both Woyome and CP cases the government of Ghana through its office of the Attorney General did not put up any stiff resistance in the court rooms before paying those debts. Both cases where as a result of negotiations between the government's legal teams and that of the plaintiffs. Asked what he thinks the solution to judgement debts can be, Mr Atta-Krufi opined that the office of the Attorney General needs to be resources with better human resources that are ready to study these vitriolic cases and be prepared to fight them with vigour. He said “ the CP matter was around during the last NPP administration but because of the vigilance of the then Attorney General we were able to fight and frustrate CP. We do not give away public money on a silver platter like that. We are custodians of the public purse and it is not our right to give them away when we so please. The use of cabinet as a backstop is a further manifestation of the NDC misunderstanding of good governance and rule of law.
“Lets put is this way, there are rogues everywhere who would like to cheat the system and if the government's legal team are not vigilant they will get away with murder. At the moment we smell collusion between these bogus claimants and the office of the Attorney General. All the claims for Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu and Dr. Kwabena Duffuor to be investigated are not without substance. If the whole President can be refused twice as was made clear in the EOCO report, what can a cabinet do? Kunbour is speaking his master's voice. He has not got an answer to the current legal brain dearth within the NDC government”
“It is being made to appear as if judgement debts management is merely administrative. No they are not. They are as a result of a legal process and it is the responsibility of the government, through its legal team at the AG's department to fight all legal matters against the state on our behalf and not just mere settlements. If the government genuinely fights the matter in the court room and loses it I do not think it is the business of the cabinet to decide whether we pay or not. It is a matter of appeal to a higher court until all legal recourse is exhausted. In which case we will have no excuse but to pay”
In 2009 the government paid compensation and judgement debt amounting to GH¢116,809,179, while in 2010 it paid GH¢187,659,1l7. In 2011, it paid GH¢24.2, 862,093, leaving an outstanding balance of GH¢141,415,758.
( DJ SOURCES ) AMANSANSOMFO
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Source: Sources Radio UK 96.3FM