The office of the Attorney General (AG) and Ministry of Justice has asked Justice Clemence Honyenuga, the judge conducting the trial of former Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Opuni, to refer the case to the Chief Justice (CJ) to be assigned to a new judge.
According to the AG, “it is practically impossible to conclude” the matter in the extremely limited time available.”
In the circumstance “we respectfully pray that my lord refers this matter to the Chief Justice to be reconstituted,” Mr Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, the Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, told the court yesterday.
Justice Honyenuga, a Justice of the Supreme Court sitting as an additional High court judge, has been hearing the trial since 2018.
But, following his retirement, he was granted a six month extension by the CJ to conclude the matter, which is expected to expire this month.
When the case was called yesterday, Mr Tuah-Yeboah, told the judge that considering the “extremely limited time” available for him to deal with the matter, he should refer the matter to the CJ for it to be reconstituted.
“Pursuant to article 144(11) of the Constitution my lord was granted a limited mandate to conclude the hearing of this matter,” the Deputy AG stated.
“Today is February 23, 2023, the time left for that mandate to expire is extremely limited in the sense that the first accused person has not closed his case for the second and third persons to open theirs and call their witnesses.
“Considering the time left, it is practically impossible to conclude in the circumstance we respectfully pray that my lord refers this matter to the Chief Justice to be reconstituted,” Mr Tuah- Yeboah noted.
He said his “submission is being made in the interest of Justice and fairness. This is our humble submission.”
Counsel for Dr Opuni, Lawyer Samuel Codjoe, said, “we have nothing to add to what the learned Deputy AG had said.”
Nutifafa Nutsukpui, counsel for the second and third accused said “respectfully my lord, we believe that this is a very commendable recommendation or suggestion from the prosecution and my lord, we will also urge you to consider it favorably in the interest of Justice.”
Justice Honyenuga who has been a subject of several applications for recuse, including a pending one from Seidu Agongo, said he would adjourn the case to March 1, to wait for the Supreme Court reasons on Dr Opuni’s review.
“It is my view that we are here this morning to await the reasons of the Supreme Court on this matter. Indeed, I should be the first person…considering the numerous applications filed in this matter in this court and the Supreme Court and also in the court of appeal.
I will adjourn the matter to Wednesday, March 1, 2023, so that we hear the full reasons of the Supreme Court and we get the full import of the Supreme Court,” he said, adding “we shall abide by the decision of the Supreme Court.”
BY MALIK SULLEMANA