COCOBOD GH¢271.3m financial loss case: SC to decide constitutionality of judge
The Supreme Court (SC) will on February 22, decide whether Justice Clement Honyenugah can continue the trial of Dr Opuni, a former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ghana COCOBOD, and Seidu Agongo, the Managing Director (MD) of Agricult Ghana Limited.
A five member panel of the court had already dismissed an application challenging the constitutionality of Justice Honyenugah’s trial of the case while on retirement.
Lead counsel for Dr Opuni, Mr Samuel Kujo, had insisted that it was unconstitutional for Justice Honyenugah to continue to conduct proceedings after he had gone on retirement in 2022.
It is the contention of the applicant that since it was the president who appointed the judge, it was only the appointing authority that can grant the appointee an extension.
An enhanced panel of seven judges would either uphold or reject the review motion on February 22.
In a related development, Justice Honyenugah on Tuesday stated that medical excuses from Agongo was delaying the trial.
This was after the registrar of the court made a follow up on the medical report of Seidu Agongo at the 37 Military Hospital.
Justice Honyenugah said he had limited time to complete trial of the case and would continue proceedings with or without medical excuse duty at the next adjourned date on February 20.
He said the court had the power to accept or reject medical reports and therefore such excuses should not be the basis to delay proceedings.
In March 2018, the Attorney-General charged Dr Opuni and Agongo, for causing financial loss of GH¢271.3 million to the state.
Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are on trial for alleged criminal offences in a fertiliser deal.
The two have been charged with 27 counts, including allegedly engaging in illegalities leading to the distribution of substandard fertiliser to cocoa farmers.
Agongo is alleged to have used fraudulent means to sell substandard fertiliser to COCOBOD for onward distribution to cocoa farmers.
Dr Opuni is also accused of facilitating the act by allowing Agongo’s products not to be tested and certified, as required by law.
According to the facts of the case, Dr Opuni on October 10, 2014, while he was the CEO of COCOBOD, agreed to permit his office to be influenced by an amount of GH¢25,000.
Mr Agongo has also been accused of endeavouring to influence the conduct of Dr Opuni in the performance of his duties as the CEO of COCOBOD, by offering him GH¢25,000 on October 10, 2014.
BY MALIK SULLEMANA