The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has described as travesty of justice, the recent Supreme Court decision that gave the green light to Justice Clement Honyenuga to conduct proceedings in the case in which Dr Stephen Opuni and two others are standing trial for procurement breaches in a fertilizer deal.
“We and all those who seek justice will continue to pray for the accused persons in the hope that they are vindicated by the truth and the law at the end of the trial. We urge them to fight with courage and perseverance to the very end,” the party said.
In a statement signed and issued on Sunday by Asiedu Nketia, the General Secretary of the NDC, said there were certain features of the majority’s ruling that caused “us great concern.
“We are at a loss as to why the Supreme Court will prohibit a High Court Judge from hearing the Kennedy Agyapong contempt case on the basis of real likelihood of bias just because the Judge had used the expression “severely punished” while the same Court did not see a real likelihood of bias against the accused persons from the clear prejudicial statements of the presiding Judge in the Opuni case stated above,” it said.
Justice Honyenuga, 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 Justice Honyenuga to continue proceedings.
Lawyer 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 GH300, 000 each self-recognizance bail.
The statement said, “strangely, the review majority failed or neglected to make any reference to its ruling in the Kennedy Agyapong contempt case, the most recent Supreme Court authority on judicial bias.
“Even more bizarre and worrying is the fact that the review majority committed patent and avoidable factual errors in their ruling of October 26, 2021, as has been said about the US Supreme Court, and we believe this holds true also for our Supreme Court.
“We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final and the finality of Supreme Court judgments of necessity casts a duty on the Court to avoid errors that can easily be avoided upon a close scrutiny of the record of a case,” the statement said.
BY MALIK SULLEMANA