SC to hear Opuni’s application to recuse judge Feb 15

The Supreme Court (SC) will on Tuesday, February 15, hear the case, in which Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana COCOBOD, is seeking the court to stop the trial High Court judge, Justice Clement Honyenugah, from conducting proceedings in the matter.

The case was scheduled for hearing on February 8, but it was adjourned for the second time, yesterday, when the accused, his counsel and state prosecutors appeared before a five-member panel of the apex court.

On January 25, the court turned down an application for shortening of time by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

Dr Opuni and Mr Seidu Agongo, the Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, a fertiliser manufacturing company are standing trial for alleged procurement breaches.

The trial of Dr Opuni was put on hold on January 18, pending the outcome of the Supreme Court decision.

This is not the first time Dr Opuni had tried to bar Justice Honyenugah from hearing the case.

Last year, the SC in a 3-2 majority decision upheld the argument of Dr Opuni that there was a likelihood of bias against the applicant.

But in a review application filed by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Godred Yeboah Dame, an enhanced panel of the SC, overturned the earlier decision by the same court.

Mr Samuel Kojo had accused the judge of bias and asked him the (judge) to recuse himself.

The first accusation against the judge was when Justice Honyenugah said at a traditional ceremony in the Volta Region in the build up to the 2020 General Elections that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was likely to win the election because of his good works.

In another instance, Mr Kojo accused the judge of bias when the judge asked for expeditious trial of the case.

In this instant application before the SC, the applicant would move two motions on February 15.

The motions were a certiorari and a prohibition which seeks to quash an earlier ruling made by the High Court and stop the judge from hearing the case.

Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo had pleaded not guilty to charges of contravention of Public Procurement Act, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officer, defrauding by false pretences and manufacturing fertiliser without registration.

In March 2018, the Attorney-General charged Dr Opuni and Agongo with 27 counts for allegedly engaging in illegalities that caused financial loss of GH¢271.3 million to the state and led to the distribution of sub-standard fertiliser to cocoa farmers.

Agongo is alleged to have used fraudulent means to sell sub-standard fertiliser to COCOBOD for onward distribution to cocoa farmers, while Dr Opuni is accused of facilitating the act by not allowing Agongo’s products to be tested and certified, as required by law.

They are currently on bail in the sum of GH¢300,000 each.



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