Lawyers of Zoomlion have accused the Auditor General of denying them of their right to be heard before surcharging them to pay back over GH¢180 million paid to them by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) for fumigation services.
According to the 2015 Auditor-General’s report, a fumigation contract between the Local Government Ministry and Zoomlion, a subsidiary of the Jospong Group of Companies, owned by Joseph Siaw Agyapong, received payments that were not due them.
Auditors in the report found from many of the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies across the country that, the contract between Zoomlion and the Health Ministry had either not been executed at all or had been ineffective in the places where attempts had been made to execute the contract. According to the Auditor-General, “As a result of this fraud committed on the people of Ghana, poor taxpayers’ money was used to pay a whopping amount of ¢184,901,650.00 to Zoomlion.”
When the Auditor General, Daniel Yaw Domelevo, announced the surcharging action, the sanitation company proceeded to court to challenge the decision claiming that that the payment it received was for work duly done by them. The payments according to Zoomlion, were authorised by state officials and that, it did no wrong for receiving payments in respect of the contract under contention.
In the Criminal High Court four (4), presided over by Justice Georgina Mensah – Datsa, lawyer for Zoomlion, Safo Buabeng, arguing the case of his client said the “Audi Alteram Partem” principle which is translated, “Let the other side be heard as well,” was disrespected by the Auditor General in that they were not given the opportunity to respond to the accusations leveled against them.
Zoomlion further argued that, “The bases of the relationship between Zoomlion and the Ministry of Health can be found in a contract between the two entities. The contract was in respect of Malaria control, and mosquito spraying nationwide. The contract was executed in December, 2009. It was renewable. After the expiration of the contract, the parties maintained their contractual relationship all though expressly, the contract was not renewed”.
It was the contention of the lawyer for Zoomlion that, “Maintaining their respective contractual relationship impliedly meant that Zoomlion and the Health Ministry maintained their contractual agreement.”
Justice Mensah-Datsa’s court after about 45 minutes of hearing indicated that she had other cases that needed to be heard. To that end, she adjourned sitting to the 15th of July, 2019 for lawyers of Zoomlion to complete their arguments before her.