The scandalous US$170million judgment debt incurred by Ghana recently from the dubious abrogation of an energy contract may have set up a debilitating blow to the Presidential Ambition of Boakye Agyarko, the former Energy Minister who supervised the mafia move.
Attorney General Godfred Yeboah Dame is currently shifting the blame away from himself for the huge financial loss to the state to dangle an axe over the head of Agyarko, who has been tipped to contest the presidential ticket of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) to succeed President Akufo Addo who had bluntly fired him [Agyarko] for his roles in some power sector scandals during his tenure at the Energy Ministry.
Critics believe that the financial loss to the state and Godfred Yeboah’ buck-passing will deal a hefty blow to the reputation of Agyarko and would affect his reported presidential ambition.
A letter written by Agyarko to order the abrogation has suddenly surfaced in what is believed to have been deliberately released by government agents to divert attention for the faux pas to Agyarko.
On June 8, 2021, the London-based United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Tribunal awarded US$170 million in damages to GPGC after Godfred Dame and his team of lawyers slept on the job and blatantly flouted deadlines set by the UNCITRAL.
In his defence, the Attorney General is frantically passing the buck to the individuals responsible for the cancellation of the GPGC contract.
One of the pieces of evidence against Boakye Agyarko includes a February 13, 2018 letter that he had written to GPGC to abrogate their duly signed contract-an act that has resulted in the much-discoursed US$170 million judgment debt.
In the letter, Mr. Agyarko, who had been fired by President Akufo Addo for supposedly misleading him [the President] in another abrogation involving another energy company, AMERI Power, had told GPGC that the company’s Power Agreement with Ghana was being abrogated because it had not met some conditions precedent.
Agyarko even threw in the claim that the GPGC had commenced construction and siting of its plants without obtaining permits from the Energy Commission saying the GPGC’s construction activities are illegal.
“In view of the above, the Government of Ghana has decided to terminate the Agreement effective the date of this letter due to GPGC’s breach of its obligations under the agreement,” Agyarko wrote.
Former Deputy Energy Minister, John Jinapor had however pointed out that Agyarko was only a puppet in the entire saga and that the blame can be placed on the entire cabinet of the Akufo-Addo government.
Also, Mr. Jinapor parried another attempt by, Godfred Dame to blame him [Jinapor] and the NDC Administration for erroneously signing the contract with GPGC in the first place.
The London Commercial Court which awarded a judgment of US$134million along with costs and interests against Ghana points out in its final judgment that Ghana’s last-minute attempt to challenge the judgment came too late.
The case involves the government’s alleged wrongful repudiation in 2018 of a contract for a “fast-track power generation solution” – involving the relocation of two aero-derivative gas turbine power plants to the government’s territory.
A UNCITRAL tribunal in London chaired by former ICC Court president John Beechey, J William Rowley QC and Ghanaian academic, Albert Fiadjoe, issued its final award in January, ordering the government to pay a contractually defined “early termination payment” of more than US$134.3 million plus interest and costs.
Under English law, the government had 28 days to bring a challenge to the award, said to be worth US$170million in all. However, the Ghana government went to sleep, and then, 3 days before the expiry of that deadline, solicitors for the government, Omnia Strategy applied to the court for a 56-day extension.
According to Omnia, the delay in bringing the application was partly because of the 2020 election and also because key members of the Attorney General’s Department had contracted COVID-19.
The Tribunal agreed to extend the deadline for the challenge to 8 March, but the government slept on its right until April 1, now represented by Voltari Fietta, made the application to set aside the judgment with the claim that the new Attorney General had been sworn in on March 5.
However, the new AG, Godfred Yeboah Dame was part of the legal team that had started the case when he was deputy to Gloria Akuffo.
In its ruling, the Court said the government’s delay was “significant and substantial”, as its request for a second extension had come 38 days after the statutory deadline and 27 days after the first extension expired.
It added that the fact that a large sum was at stake in the arbitration was no excuse to delay the challenge.
It also said the fact that the attorney general, had not been sworn in until March 5, was no excuse for a whole government with a whole Department for attorneys.
As for arguments about covid-19, the judge said the evidence as to the way in which the pandemic had affected the government was “wholly inadequate”.