A Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Yaw Appau, has said most judgment debt declared by the court against the state in favour of individuals, families and institutions are ‘unconscionable and indefensible’.
According to him, the undue disregard for the sanctity of contracts and breaches of same by government and its agencies accounted for the huge debts incurred by the state in the name of judgement debt.
Justice Appau said some government appointees, abrogated valid contracts, which made it difficult for the Attorney-General’s Office to defend at the court, leading to payment of huge judgment debt.
“How can you go and defend a case where government has awarded a valid contract, then when there is change of government the contract is re-awarded,” he asked.
Justice Appau was speaking at the 8th Leadership Dialogue Series organised by the Centre for Social Justice in collaboration with IMANI Ghana, on the topic “Uprooting public sector and political corruption in Ghana,” in Accra.
“The person whose contract was abrogated will wait when the government is voted out, he or she goes to court. So most of these cases are taking to court after the government who abrogated the contract leaves office,” he noted.
Justice Appau said some of these abrogated contracts, were later awarded to political cronies and party men, who do not have any skill about the contracts awarded to them.
“Some of these cronies, who are not even contractors in turn sell the awarded contracts to contractors at a fee. Such contracts are not well executed because, before the money gets to the actual contract, it has lost its value,” he said.
This practice, according to Justice Appau was common with Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
He cited a case of Rockshell Company which had a contract to supply materials for the construction of the Keta Sea Defense wall in 1986, at a contract sum of GH₵55,305 at the time.
“The money was not paid and the company went to court in 2006, to chase the money. After the court ruling the company obtained a judgment debt of $70 million dollars.The Finance Minister later met the company and they agreed on a sum of $35 million dollars in 2009,”Justice Appau said.
A Senior Programme and Research Officer at the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Mrs Mary Awelana Addah, called for political will in fighting corruption in the country.
She said that although the menace required collective responsibility of Ghanaians, politicians should not interfere in the work of agencies mandated by the constitution to arrest and jail corrupt people.
BY BERNARD BENGHAN