Opuni case will not start afresh – Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal has overturned a decision by the Accra High Court to hear afresh the trial of former COCOBOD boss Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo.

In a unanimous decision today (July 3, 2023), a three member panel of the court held that the trial High Court misdirected itself when it decided not to adopt the previous proceedings of the five year trial when a new judge took over the case.

Adopt the records
Consequently, the three-member panel of the Court of Appeal, presided over by Justice Philip Bright Mensah, with Justices Jennifer Dadzie and Dr Ernest Owusu-Dapaa, ordered the High Court to adopt the records of the previous trial and continue the trial from where it ended.

The court made the decision after it upheld an appeal filed by the Attorney-General (A-G), Godfred Yeboah Dame.

Dr Opuni was dragged to court in March 2018 with Agongo, the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, an agro-chemical company.

State prosecutors have accused the two of causing financial loss of more than GH¢271 million to the state in a series of Lithovit Foliar fertiliser transactions.

It is the case of the prosecution that the fertiliser was substandard and has accused Agongo of allegedly using fraudulent means to sell the fertiliser to COCOBOD for onward distribution to cocoa farmers.

New judge
After five years of trial, in March 2023, the judge, Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Justice of the Supreme Court, with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, retired.

The Chief Justice then appointed a new judge, Justice Kwasi Anokye Gyimah, as the new judge.

With the new development, the prosecution filed an application urging the High Court to adopt the previous proceedings of the case before Justice Honyenuga, which had been ongoing for five years.

However, in a ruling on April 4, 2024, Justice Gyimah said the trial must start afresh because it would be unfair for him to adopt the proceedings of Justice Honyenuga, which had been “saddled” with numerous allegations.

The A-G then filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal challenging the decision of the High Court to start the trial afresh, with a case that the decision was against the tenets of fair trial.

It is the case of the A-G that Justice Gyimah misdirected himself by the manner in which he refused to adopt the evidence already adduced at the trial.

Source: Graphic online

Related Articles

Back to top button