A-G ordered to submit documents to Dr Opuni

Ms Gloria Akuffo-Minister of Justice and Attorney General

Ms Gloria Akuffo-Minister of Justice and Attorney General

An Accra high court yesterday ordered the Attorney-General (A-G) and Ministry of Justice to hand over certain documents to Dr. Stephen Opuni, former Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), to enable him to defend himself in court.

Dr. Opuni, and businessman, Seidu Agongo, Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, accused of causing GH¢217 million financial loss to the state, in a fertiliser deal, have requested for documents prosecution intend to rely on.

Counsel for accused, Mr. Samuel Cudjoe, told the court that the A-G had furnished his clients with some documents, but they still needed certain documents.

He said Dr. Opuni needed documents on fertiliser contracts executed before and during his tenure, which he said were in the custody of Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).

In her response, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mrs. Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, said the A-G had submitted documents to the defendants, and that the documents he was asking for were not in their possession.

Justice Clement Honyenugah, a Court of Appeal Judge, sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court Judge, ordered the A-G to submit the documents to Dr. Opuni.

The defendants, on April 11, filed a motion at the Criminal Division “1” of Accra High Court, and prayed for an order directed at the prosecution to disclose to them all documents, including witness statements.

The case was put on hold for more than one month, awaiting the outcome of a similar case at the Supreme Court (SC), in which five former appointees of the National Communication Authority (NCA) wanted an interpretation of Article 19(2) (e) and (g) of the 1992 Constitution that bothers on fair trial and provision of adequate time and facilities to the accused.

In a unanimous decision, the SC, on June 7, ordered the state to furnish the accused with all documents it intends to rely on in both summary and indictment trials.

Ruling on the application for disclosure of documents, Justice Clemence K. Honyenugah said the decision of the apex court was binding on all lower courts.

He said the disclosure must be considered on relevance, admissibility and national security.

The court further directed the A-G to disclose the documents to Dr. Opuni and Mr. Agongo within seven days, to ensure speedy, fair and expeditious trial.

In her response to the ruling, Mrs. Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, told the court that prosecution did not have all the documents defendants had requested for, and that it would provide them with documents in its possession.

Dr. Opuni and Mr. Agongo were each granted self recognisance bail of GH¢300,000 on March 27, having pleaded not guilty to all 27 charges leveled against them by the Attorney-General.

Dr Opuni’s lawyer, Mr Samuel Cudjoe, filed the motion for disclosure of documents on behalf of his client.

The lawyer asked the court to order the prosecution to furnish Dr Opuni with documents which came into its possession, including the witness statements of Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited, the second and third defendants.

The applicant further urged the court to direct the prosecution to furnish him with witness statements of persons obtained by prosecution, who would be called at the trial and those of others who would not be called to give evidence as well as letters written by COCOBOD through the first accused to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) for permission to sole source contracts for all fertilisers.

BY MALIK SULLEMANA

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