A five-member panel of the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered an Accra High Court to proceed with the trial of Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, former Chief Executive of the Ghana COCOBOD.
Dr Opuni and Mr Seidu Agongo, Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, a fertiliser manufacturing company are standing trial for alleged procurement breaches in a fertiliser deal.
The former COCOBOD boss wanted the apex court to stop the trial judge, Justice Clement Honyenugah, a Supreme Court judge sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge from hearing the case.
But the court held the view that the decision of Justice Honyenugah to dismiss the stay of proceedings application was supported by law.
At the High Court, counsel for the accused, Mr Samuel Codjoe argued that, the trial judge acted in clear disregard to the law, in spite of the pendency of stay of proceedings application at the Court of Appeal.
He said the judge went beyond his jurisdiction as per the rules of Constitutional Instrument (C.I.19) as amended by C.I.21.
He said, “once we filed our stay of proceedings at the Court of Appeal and once the High Court’s attention was drawn to it, it has to hold on proceedings until the determination at the Court of Appeal.”
In opposing the application, Mrs Stella Ohene Appiah, a Principal State Attorney told the Supreme Court that application asking for the Court of Appeal to stay proceedings had long been dismissed.
She said an application for stay of proceedings doesn’t automatically operate as stay of proceedings, and therefore, urged the court not to entertain the motion.
Dr Opuni and Mr Seidu Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, willfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 self-recognisance bail.
BY MALIK SULLEMANA