Is Ghana in double standards in submission to regional courts?

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Ghana is caught in what may be regarded as double standards as it voluntarily agrees to pay over $800,000 to a Nigerian man following a default judgment obtained against the state in the ECOWAS court.

This is in sharp contrast to the decision of the Supreme Court in the famous Argentine case which formed the basis of the Attorney-General’s argument against Ghana honouring the African Human and Peoples Rights Court’s recent orders to the state to halt processes at retrieving the 51.2 million cedis from businessman Alfred Woyome.

The African court on November 24, 2017 granted provisional measures against the state and in favour of Mr. Woyome restraining the state from continuing with efforts to attach his properties for purposes of auctioning to defray the debt.

The Court said it took the decision to grant the request for interim measures because a substantial injustice would be done to Mr Woyome if the state of Ghana was allowed to auction his properties and the court later decided in his favour.

“The court finds that the situation raised in the present application is of extreme gravity and urgency on the basis that should the applicant’s property be attached and sold to recover the 51, 283, 480.59 the applicant would suffer irreparable harm if the application on the merits is decided in his favour…” it said.

After the African court's decision, Deputy A-G Godfred Yeboah Dame told the Supreme Court Ghana shouldn’t be made to obey those orders on the basis of the court’s own previous decision in the Argentine case.

The court accordingly held that it was the final court of law and wouldn’t share its constitutional powers with any other.

The state made similar arguments to resist the enforcement of a default judgment for the 800,000 awarded against Ghana for the benefit of a Nigerian businessman.

In a suit initiated by the Nigerian, Chude Mba, to enforce the ECOWAS judgment, the state argued and the Accra High Court held on February 4, 2016 that Ghanaian courts were not obliged to enforce the judgment because the treaty setting up the court had not been domesticated. 

But the government has in a surprising U-turn voluntarily agreed by settlement to pay the money within three months to the Nigerian after he issued a fresh writ on 14th Dec 2016 (suit no. HR/0135/2016) claiming the amount awarded by the ECOWAS court and blaming Ghana for not respecting the sub-regional court. 

The State has also halted a freeze it placed on the Plaintiff’s bank accounts in Ghana through EOCO after he was accused of money laundering in the construction of an ultra-modern multipurpose complex in Accra. 

The Plaintiff was said to have jumped bail and sought refuge in the ECOWAS community court where he accused Ghana of violating his Human Rights and compelling him to sell off the property cheaply. 

Ghana may become the first signatory country to the ECOWAS Treaty to submit to a judgment of that court as member countries including Nigeria where the court is headquartered have always refused including through their national courts to obey judgments of the court.