COCOBOD trial: SC to rule on AG’s review case on October 26

Ghana's Supreme Court Ghana's Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has adjourned to Tuesday October 26 to give a verdict on the case brought to it by the Attorney General Godfred Dame which is challenging the removal of Justice Honyenuga as the trial judge in the case against former CEO of COCOBOD, Dr Stephen Opuni.

Mr Dame had said the ruling of the highest court of the land stopping the case against former COCOBOD CEO Stephen Kwabena Opuni, businessman Seidu Agongo, and Agricult Ghana Limited, contained fundamental errors.

According to him, the fundamental errors occasioned a miscarriage of justice.

To that end, he said in his statement of case filed at the Supreme Court registry on 18 August 2021the judgement ought to be reviewed.

He asked the Supreme Court review panel "to make a deep introspection into the soundness of the decision of the Court dated 28 July 2021 and correct the errors contained therein".

The apex court by a majority decision granted the application of Dr Opuni, for the Supreme Court Judge sitting in as additional High Court Judge to abandon the trial.

The three-two Majority also quashed the decision of the trial Judge for rejecting an exhibit lawyers of the former CEO submitted to the court.

The application which was initially filed at the High Court was a motion on notice for the trial Judge, Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, to recuse himself.

A Second application, which was filed at the Court of Appeal was a repeat application for a stay of proceedings pending the determination of an Appeal at the High Court.

The parties in the matter filed the repeat application after the High Court dismissed their initial application to stay proceedings pending an Appeal.

The High Court ordered Dr. Opuni and Seidu Agongo, the Chief Executive Officer of Agricult Ghana Limited to open their defence after the State had established a prima facie case against them.

Justice Clemence Honyenuga, in his ruling on a submission of no case, said the prosecution had succeeded in proving the essential ingredients in the charges levelled against the accused persons except for three charges on money laundering.

Dr Opuni, the first accused person was asking the trial Judge to refer the suit to the Chief Justice for reassignment to another Judge.

According to Dr. Opuni, the first accused said the motion was on the grounds of breach of Article 19 (2) (e) & (g) of the 1992 Constitution and for real likelihood of bias and asked the trial Judge to refer the suit to the Chief Justice, amend same for it to be "re-assigned to another judge on the grounds as contained in the accompanying affidavit."

The former COCOBOD CEO, said the Judge stated in open court that he had to complete the case quickly to enable him concentrate on his duties at the Supreme Court as the case had been pending for the past three years thereby affecting his work in the Supreme Court.

The first accused said the learned Judge, having stated in open court that he was in hurry to hear the case, such that he refused to give him an additional four days to enable him adequately prepare for the case.

Justice Honyenuga after hearing the parties said "in view of the filing of an application to recuse myself from hearing the matter and also the pendency of a repeat application at the Court of Appeal, the trial is adjourned to June 9, 2021."

Dr Opuni and Seidu Agongo are facing 27 charges including defrauding by false pretences, willfully causing financial loss to the State, money laundering, corruption by public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 self-recognizance bail, each.

But the ruling of the Supreme Court suggests that the case will have to start all over under a new trial judge.

Source: 3news.com