Even though orders of a court are meant to be obeyed, managers of construction firm Waterville Holdings Limited say they will not yield to orders of Ghana’s Supreme Court to refund all monies paid it following claims it made against the state regarding work done in the rehabilitation of stadia for the 2008 African Cup of Nations.
The construction firm, which was paid about €25 million by the National Democratic Congress government as judgment debt on the claims of “unlawful termination of contract by the Kufuor administration” has therefore proceeded to court to block the Minister of Justice and Attorney General and the Government of Ghana from compelling it to refund the money with interest.
According to Waterville, the basis on which the Supreme Court ruled in June that the said contract on which the company made the claim is unconstitutional because it lacked parliamentary approval under Article 181 of the 1992 Constitution is untenable.
“Whether the contract went to parliament or not, what we know is that we had a contract with Ghana government and the contract was wrongfully terminated base on which we obtained the judgment, it was not our duty to take the contract to parliament for approval, why has the court left those whose duty was to take the contract to parliament for approval and wants to punish us for a sin we have not committed? This is like robbing Peter to pay Paul,” an official of Waterville, who wants to remain unknown, told this paper.
Base on this, managers of Waterville said, they will use ‘all’ legal means to thwart any attempt by the government to compel them to refund the money as ordered by the court.
Acting on a ruling by a nine member panel presided over Justice Date-Baah of the Supreme Court on an application filed by former Attorney General, Mr. Martin Amidu challenging sum payments to Waterville, Madam Marietta Brew Appiah filed a writ at the High Court on 29 August 2013 to compel the construction firm to pay back the sum with interest after it refused to heed to the court’s order.
But Waterville has also entered a conditional appearance in court to object to the Attorney General’s application on the basis that they did no wrong and that it was not their responsibility to go to parliament and ratify agreements.
Directly reacting to Head of Policy Monitoring and Evaluation at the Presidency, Dr. Tony Aidoo that government’s delay in retrieving the money from Waterville gives credence to the “create, loot and share” syndrome, another official of the construction company said, they can ‘pardon’ the NDC guru for uttering those words since he is a lay man.
The Waterville official said, if Dr. Aidoo was to take a critical look at the judgment and assume an independent and unbiased posturing, he would “agree with me that the judgment can simply not pass the test of common sense and international law…Waterville did not invade Ghana’s treasurers… winning a contract is not like going to the market to buy tomatoes, it is a process that all parties must fulfill their part, taking the contract to parliament was not our responsibility”
He said, “even if we’d have to go to international arbitration to prove that we did no wrong and that we were due monies paid us, we’ll not hesitate at all.”
A legal expert familiar with the case told this paper that “the fact that GoG had the onus on it to have sent the contract and/or agreement to Parliament for the necessary attestation as required by the Constitution; and defaulted accordingly; in principle, the GoG cannot be heard and seen taken advantage of its own default [wrongdoing] to the detriment of the other party: Djomuah v. Amargyei (1961) 1 GLR 170, SC; Rep v. Asokore Traditional Council; ex parte Tiwaa (1976) 2 GLR 231 at 239, CA; Ndolley v. Iddirisu (1979) GLR 559, CA; Amuzu v. Oklikah (1989-90) SCGLR 141, SC. And also see, usefully, per Denning LJ (as he then was) in Baxter v. Eckersley (1950) 1 KB 480 at 487 or (150) 1 All ER 139 at 142, CA”.
Waterville throughout the case had maintained it won an open bid and was accordingly given a contract to rehabilitate the Accra and Kumasi stadia and to construct three new ones in 2006 in Ghana’s preparation to host the 2008 African Cup of Nations.
The company said the Government of Ghana unilaterally cancelled the contract soon after the company had procured materials and equipment to start work and had actually begun work with its own resources since it was given very limited time to complete the job in time for the CAN 2008. It consequently made an immediate claim for reimbursement which both the Kufuor and Mills governments paid through installments.
Source: The Al-Hajj