After two unsuccessful attempts to stop the Supreme Court (SC) Judge, Justice Clement Honyenugah, from hearing the COCOBOD GH¢271 million financial loss to the state case, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD, Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, has petitioned the Chief Justice (CJ), Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, over the matter.
The content of the petition is not known, but it is believed that Dr Opuni, who is charged for various criminal offences, is exploring another means to stop Justice Honyenugah from hearing the case.
Dr Opuni, charged together with Mr Seidu Agongo, the Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges leveled against him and is currently on GHc300,000 self-recognizance bail.
The first two attempts asking the trial judge to recuse himself, relates to comments the judge allegedly made to the effect that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was likely to win the 2020 General Election and another one in which the judge called for an expeditious trial.
When the case was called, Justice Honyenugah said he was served with a copy of the petition to the CJ, and thus, adjourned the case to June 29, pending the outcome of the petition.
Mrs Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), told the court that she had not seen the petition.
In March 2018, the Attorney-General charged Dr Opuni and Agongo, for causing financial loss of GH¢271.3 million to the state.
The two have been charged with 27 counts, including allegedly engaging in illegalities leading to the distribution of sub-standard fertilizer to cocoa farmers.
Agongo is alleged to have used fraudulent means to sell sub-standard fertiliser to COCOBOD for onward distribution to cocoa farmers.
At the same time, Dr Opuni is 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 Stephen Kwabena Opuni in the performance of his duties as the CEO of COCOBOD by offering him an amount of GH₵25,000” on October 10, 2014.
BY MALIK SULLEMANA