COCOBOD fertiliser procurement case: A-G’s application for abridgment of time dismissed

The Supreme Court (SC), yesterday turned down an application for abridgment of time by the Attorney-General (A-G) and Minister of Justice in alleged fertiliser procurement breaches, involving Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni.

By the decision of the court, the two motions filed by lawyers of Dr Opuni, a former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana COCOBOD would be heard on February 8, the date originally scheduled for hearing.

The trial of Dr Opuni, a former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana COCOBOD was put on hold last week.

Dr Opuni, the applicant, is seeking to stop Justice Clement Honyenugah from conducting proceedings.

This is not the first time Dr Opuni has tried to bar Justice Honyenugah from hearing the matter.

Last year, the Supreme Court in a 3-2 majority decision upheld the argument of Dr Opuni that there was a likelihood of bias against the applicant.

But, in a review application filed by the A-G and Minister of Justice, Mr Godred Yeboah Dame, an enhanced panel of the SC overturned the earlier decision by the same court.

Mr Samuel Kojo had accused the judge of bias and asked him the (judge) to recuse himself.

The first accusation against the judge was when Justice Honyenugah said at traditional ceremony in the Volta Region in the build up to the 2020 General Election that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was likely to win the election because of his good works.

In another instance, Mr Kojo accused the judge of bias when the judge asked for expeditious trial of the case.

In this instant application before the SC, the applicant would move two motions on February 8, 2022.The motions were a certiorari and a prohibition which seeks to quash an earlier ruling made by the high court and stop the judge from hearing the case.

Dr Opuni and Seidu Agongo, the Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, a fertiliser manufacturing company had pleaded not guilty to charges of contravention of Public Procurement Act, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officer, defrauding by false pretences and manufacturing fertiliser with registration.

In March 2018, the Attorney-General charged Dr Opuni and Agongo with 27 counts for allegedly engaging in illegalities that caused financial loss of GH¢271.3 million to the state and led to the distribution of sub-standard fertiliser to cocoa farmers.

Agongo is alleged to have used fraudulent means to sell sub-standard fertiliser to COCOBOD for onward distribution to cocoa farmers, while Dr Opuni is accused of facilitating the act by not allowing Agongo’s products to be tested and certified, as required by law.

The two are currently on bail in the sum of GH¢300,000 each.


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