The Woyome affair, a teaching moment
Faced with a massive fraud case such as Woyome-gate, it is now
up to us to come up with strategies to fight off future
corruption attempts. This is no time to find means for
eventual jailbreak for presumed culprits.
The recent report on Woyome-gate, from the Economic and
Organised Crime Office (EOCO), should not be an excuse for
watering down the seriousness of this crime against Ghana.
But, already, one could sense a trend toward this direction
with the various interpretations given to the report by some
For doubters and enablers of Woyome, there must be one
question to ask now before anything else: Did Woyome have or
not have a contract with the state?
The former NPP government, in this particular case, said Woyome had no
contract with the state. Rather, it was Waterville, a
foreign company, that was bidding for the contract.
The implication for defense
for Woyome, the purported Ghanaian businessman,
could be that he was the agent for Waterville. Even so, he
would still not have a claim against the state of Ghana since
his claim should be directed against Waterville.
To Woyome’s credit he did not argue publicly that he
personally had a contract with the state, under the
administration of the previous NPP government, the EOCO report
Yet, curiously, he had in a law suit claimed a default
judgment against the state on the same case and for the courts
to order the huge payment (GHC 51 million) to him under the
very nose of the NDC administration of which he was supposed
to have been a financial supporter!
The perplexing point is no official, prior to the payment of
this default judgment, sensed a fraudulent mission on the part
of Woyome. We cannot describe this official neglect as the
work of legal dunces. Dunces they were not. This must lead us
to suspect that the fraud that resulted in the payment was
hatched or was a conspiracy.
The then Attorney General, Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu, was
described in the EOCO report to have undertaken “all the
negotiations….. (and) also the person who, as the Attorney
General, should have made sure that the suit in court was
As it turned out, Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu did not defend the state
because the AG Department claimed the government had no case
and therefore did not have a defense!
The EOCO report further stated that “there were however enough
grounds to defend the action but this was not done.” This
conclusion was arrived at because the EOCO found enough
evidence in the Attorney General case files that pointed to
the fact that Woyome, himself, could not defend his claim as
was presented to the AG department!
With regard to Woyome, the EOCO report stated that “he put in
a claim which by his own documentary submissions he was not
entitled to. He manipulated documents and information and
riding on the negligence (and/or complicity) of public
officials, managed to receive money which he was clearly not
“As said above, it has been detected from his bank statement
that he made a payment of an amount of GHC 400,000.00 to Mrs.
Gifty Nerquaye-Tetteh” (wife of Mr. Samuel Nerquaye Tetteh,
the Chief State Prosecutor from the AG’s office) on June 16,
The lesson so far is the nature of the process by which an
individual, perhaps in collusion with powerful agents of
government, hijacked critical institutions of state, the
Courts and the Bank of Ghana, to commit fraud on the state
So far, we know the total amount involved in the fraudulent
act and the loss to the state. But the cost should not be
limited only to the amount paid to Woyome and his cronies.
We should also expect another huge loss from another
direction: The cost to come in the form of diminished trust in
our central bank, The Ghana Bank, by foreign entities for
gross failure in its fiduciary responsibility to the state.
This case is the worse in our history. By its very nature, if
allowed to continue, it could be a very dangerous drive
towards the destruction of our sovereignty. Rapid escalation
in its corruptive audacity could end in the sale of the entire
real estate of Ghana.
If at this point we are still not aware of the culprits or the
entire gang involved in this gargantuan fraud, we should at
least be conscious that something of this nature could happen
again, and therefore, move to find means to prevent or limit
This danger, therefore, begs for a constitutional amendment to
check its growth. The amendment should allow the following
a) That the president should be limited to one, six-year term,
b) That any party in government adjudged corrupt on a grand
scale (e.g., Woyome-gate) should be banned from participating
in public elections for the next ten years and its officers
barred from holding public offices for the same reason and
length of time.
This is not to be seen as a drive against one political party.
It must affect all parties that seek the political power to
Part A limits the president’s appetite for political power
beyond the one six-year term allowed. Since the president has
only one term he will have no obligation for excessive
cultivation and corruption of the partisan base to remain in
power. He will have nothing to lose. In the event of such
massive corruption within his party, he can go against his own
base and expose the crime, especially if such crime threatens
his legacy. Should he fail to do so, he would have by that act
of omission handed his successor a political bonanza and the
power to go after him and his party.
Part B describes the consequence for a political party in
power that attempts to game the system for benefit. Officials
and members of the party in government will not stand by idle
to see a president or some ministers in their midst wreck
their party’s future chances for power by indulging in rampant
corruption in the present. A ten year threat of suspension
from power will be enough to make members sober and vigilant
about corruption within their ranks.
Many attempts have been made in the past to arrest corruption
– coups, mass executions, elections – only to arrive at Woyome-gate.
We must learn our lessons and move for an amendment of the
constitution to curtail corruption.
Apart from Woyome-gate being highly appalling, it carries an
elevated risk for the future because of the manner the default
judgment was granted.
The process was easy: An Attorney General who claimed
non-defense by the state, a judge who overlooked the serious
lack of merit in the plaintiff's case, and a Finance Minister
and state bank officials that refused to fight for the
fiduciary interest of the state.
Despite its obvious ease and invitation for copy cats, the
good part is this type of fraud requires collusion of a
massive scale. This alone should make it possible for a
willing public to detect. The bad part is the Ghanaian public
has always had an adoring mind for the criminal. They tend to
see them as Robin Hoods.
Should the public be able to overcome this hero worship for
criminals, it could in such cases become the whistleblower on
crimes such as Woyome-gate and call for prompt investigations.
Parliament and not the government in power should then appoint
the commissioners to investigate the purported crime. This
commission, like our elections, should be open to outside
Washington, DC, February 15, 2012
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