Ghana’s highest court, the Supreme Court, has ordered Spanish energy company ISOFOTON SA to refund to the Government of Ghana the cedi equivalent of $325,472 it received as judgement debt.
The ruling follows an application by former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Martin Amidu, who said the company had no basis to make the claims because it had no contract with the government of Ghana, the breach of which should result in the payment of any judgement debt.
ISOFOTON is involved in designing, manufacturing and supplying Solar Energy products.
The nine member panel, presided over by Justice Date Baah, unanimously ruled that “the foundation which Isofoton went to court was weak because the agreement in itself was not laid before parliament.”
The court further stated that the High Court presided by Justice Ernest Obimpeh had no jurisdiction in determining the case and should have referred the matter to the Supreme Court.
“If an agreement is not laid before parliament, per the laws of the country in Article 185, it becomes null and void thus the High Court ruling that granted the judgement debt acted unconstitutionally. And that the cedi equivalent of 325,472 dollars must be refunded to the state,” the judges said.
The Supreme Court also referred the conduct of lawyers for ISOFOTON to the General Legal Council. It however struck out ISOFOTON’s agent Anane Adjei Forson’s name from the suit because he was not the proper person to be sued.
Isofoton was demanding judgement debt of $1.3 million for which the government had started paying in instalment but the Supreme Court, in March 2013 ordered the government to stop further payments until the case was determined.
It would be recalled that somewhere last year, then Deputy Information Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa spearheading what the Mills’ administration termed “Sunlight Campaigns” on judgment debts, berated former Chief of Staff in the Kufuor administration, Kwadwo Mpiani for allegedly abrogating a valid contract the Ministry of Agriculture duly signed with Isofoton and awarding it to another Spanish Company.
That decision by Mr. Mpiani, according to the government, had led to a judgment debt of $1.3 million in favour of the Spanish company.
The former Chief of Staff was reported to be out of town when the Isofoton judgment debt saga broke out but the ‘Sunlight Campaigners’ branded his silence as deafening and a sign of guilt.
Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani vehemently denied the allegation when later reached on phone, pointing out that contrary to claims he breached the Isofoton contract and awarded it to Elecnor, he followed religiously the agreement in the Spanish Protocol signed with Government of Ghana in 2006.
He even adduced a letter written by the Ministry of Finance dated 13th April, 2007, to the Attorney General which sought to dismiss claims of breach of contract and corresponding damages being made by Isofoton against the Government of Ghana.
Enter the fray Martin Amidu, who was sacked as Attorney General for “misconduct”.
The former A-G was convinced Isofoton had no legitimate basis to make any claims against the state, and despite his dismissal, the “citizen vigilante” proceeded to the Supreme Court as a concerned citizen and sought nine declarations from the Supreme Court.
And on Friday, the Supreme Court judges sitting on the case unanimously agreed with the arguments by Mr Amidu and ordered Isofoton to refund the monies paid to it by the government of Ghana plus interest.