Dr Opuni’s counsel stopped from asking questions from rejected document

Justice Clement Honyenugah yesterday stopped counsel for Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni from asking questions from a document already rejected by the court.

Mr Samuel Codjoe, lead counsel for Dr Opuni, a former Chief Executive of Ghana COCOBOD, was leading Mr Charles Tetteh Dodoo, former Director of Finance at the COCOBOD and a witness in evidence.

He asked the witness questions about the document which is a letter written by Procurement Unit of Ghana COCOBOD and addressed to the Public Procurement Authority dated February 25, 2014 for approval to sole source fungicide / pesticides for 2013 / 2014.

Justice Honyenugah who is a Supreme Court judge, sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court Judge ruled out the document when the prosecution led by Mrs Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) objected to the questions being asked of the witness by Mr Cojdoe.

She stated that her objection was based on the fact that the said document had been expunged from the record of the court, adding that Mr Codjoe cannot use the back door to surreptitiously steal the question to the witness.

 In his response, Mr Codjoe referred to section 6 and 8 of the evidence act and argued that in so far as the objection was not taken at the time the document was tendered, same was properly admitted. 

“This is therefore a proper instance for the witness to refer to an exhibit which has properly been admitted,” Mr Codjoe stated.

Ruling on the objection, Justice Honyenugah said the decision of the Supreme Court on October 26 did not restore the document which Mr Codjoe was eliciting answers from the witness.

He said the reference to the document cannot stand and all references to it were of no effect.

While upholding the objection, Justice Honyenugah stated that all references to the document “are expunged.”

Justice Honyenugah, a Supreme Court judge sitting with additional responsibility as a high court judge was on July 28 barred from hearing the criminal case by a 3-2 majority decision of the Supreme Court over a possible bias against the accused 

But three months after the ruling, an enhanced 4-3 majority decision upheld a review application filed by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame and asked the Justice Honyenugah to continue proceedings.

Lawyers for Dr Opuni who was a former Chief Executive of the Ghana COCOBOD had accused the trial judge of bias for making pre-judicial comments and also excluding 18 documents (exhibits) tendered through a prosecution witness without objection.

Dr Opuni and Seidu Agongo, the Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, a fertilizer manufacturing company had pleaded not guilty to charges of stealing, procurement breaches, causing financial loss to the state and money laundering in the purchase of Lithovit Forliar fertilizer and are currently on GHC300,000 each self-recognizance bail.

BY MALIK SULLEMANA

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