A-G challenges Supreme Court on Opuni trial

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Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, is challenging a Supreme Court decision that prohibited Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, a Supreme Court judge with additional responsibility as a high court judge, from sitting on a case involving the republic and a former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, and two others.

According to the AG, the Supreme Court’s 3:2 decision given on July 2021 against the state contained fundamental errors that occasioned a miscarriage of justice, and ought to be reviewed.

In a statement of case filed at the court’s registry on August 18 2021, the Attorney General invited the Supreme Court’s review panel “to make a deep introspection into the soundness of the decision of the Court dated 28th July, 2021 and correct the errors contained therein.”

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“The Court ought to be guided by the simple question whether the impugned decision, on account of the multiple legal flaws, leads to a miscarriage of justice in the case pending at the High Court,” the AG’s statement of case read. The court is expected to decide on the case today.

Background

A five-member Supreme Court panel, presided over by Justice Jones Dotse, on July 28, 2021, granted an application by Dr Opuni that invoked its supervisory jurisdiction seeking orders in the nature of certiorari to quash parts of the submission of no case ruling of the trial judge as well as an order of prohibition to prohibit the trial judge from further hearing of the case.

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Other members of the panel were Justices Gabriel Pwamang, Agnes Dordzie, Avril Lovelace -Johnson, and Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu.

Dr Opuni and Seidu Agongo, managing director of Agricult Ghana Limited, have been charged by the State and are currently on trial before the High Court (Criminal Division 1) on 27 counts of abetment of crime, namely defrauding by false pretence, willfully causing financial loss to the state, contravention of the Public Procurement Act and corruption by a public officer.

After more than two years of trial, the prosecution on March 29 2021 closed its case against the accused persons.

The prosecution, led by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, called seven witnesses to prove the charges against the accused persons who were extensively cross-examined by defence lawyers, some spanning about six months.

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Dr Opuni and Seidu Agongo allegedly caused financial loss to the state to the tune of GH¢217,370,289.22.

They have been accused over the purchase and supply of Lithovit fertilizer, which the state submitted was done in contravention of several laws.

The two pleaded not guilty to all the charges, and were admitted to self-recognizance bail in the sum of GH¢300,000 each by the court at the beginning of the trial.

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