GH¢217m financial loss case: Dr Opuni accused of delaying trial

Mrs. Evelyn Keelson, a Chief State Attorney yesterday told an Accra high court that demand for certain documents by Dr. Stephen Opuni, former Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), accused of  causing GH¢217 million financial loss to the state, in a fertiliser deal, is an attempt to delay the trial.

She said the state did its “utmost best” to furnish Dr. Opuni and businessman Seidu  Agongo, also accused in the case,  with all documents in its possession and that the documents accused was requesting were irrelevant to the case.

Lead counsel for the former COCOBOD boss, Samuel Cudjoe, argued that “we are anxious to clear our name,” adding that his client needs contract documents covering COCOBOD’s dealings with all fertilisers to enable him to defend himself.

He said the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) showed them the documents when they appeared before EOCO, but refused to give them copies.

However, the prosecutor insisted that those documents were not in their possession.

Justice Clement Honyenugah, a Court of Appeal Judge, sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, ordered investigators in the case to ‘fish’ out for those documents from COCOBOD and submit them to the A-G.

The court ordered that the documents be filed on Friday, July 13.

It is recalled that 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 Communications 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.

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 have come 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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