High Court throws out Valerie Sawyerr

A former Deputy Chief of Staff, Ms Valerie Sawyerr, has failed in her legal action challenging certain audit findings which reportedly implicated her on alleged procurement breaches when she was a board member of the Ghana National Gas Company (Ghana Gas).

In a ruling yesterday, the Accra High Court dismissed Ms Sawyerr’s application for judicial review which sought an order from the court to quash the audit conducted by a private firm, Morrison & Associates, which was engaged by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).

Ms Sawyerr had argued in her application that it was the Auditor-General who had the mandate to conduct an audit of Ghana Gas and not a private firm engaged by EOCO.

It was also her contention that the audit findings breached the rules of natural justices because she was not given a fair hearing to respond to the findings.

The former Deputy Chief of Staff filed the application on October 8, 2018.

Attached to the application as respondents were the Attorney-General (A-G), EOCO and Assistant Commissioner of Police K.K Amoah (retd), the Executive Director of EOCO at the time.

Delivering her ruling, the presiding judge, Justice Jennifer Dodoo, held that EOCO did not breach any law in engaging the private firm to conduct the audit.

She said the audit was part of an investigative process, and, therefore, EOCO had the legal backing to rely on it for its investigative processes.

On the issue of the breach of natural justice, the court held that EOCO, indeed, gave Ms Sawyerr a hearing by inviting her on the basis that she was a subject of interest.

The said invitation letter, the court said, was part of the exhibits the applicant attached to her application.

In view of that, the court said, Ms Sawyerr was given an opportunity to be heard, and, therefore, there was no breach of the rules of natural justice.

Ms Sawyerr’s lawyer was Mr Godwin Edudzi Tamakloe, while a Deputy Attorney-General, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, represented the state.

Ms Sawyerr was a member of the Board of Directors of Ghana Gas between August 2011 and January 2016. On October 19, 2017, EOCO engaged a private firm, Morrison & Associates, to conduct a forensic audit into some state organisations, including Ghana Gas.

In a response by Mr Dame, the A-G first raised a preliminary legal objection describing the application as “incompetent” due to the joining of ACP Amoah (retd) as a respondent.

According to the A-G, EOCO’s Executive Director is a public officer, and, therefore, could not be sued in that capacity.

The law, the A-G stated, enjoined all persons taking legal action against the government or public officials to direct such actions against the A-G, who is the principal legal advisor to the government.


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