The Supreme Court has removed Justice Clemence Honyenuga from the Opuni case as a trial judge.
By this decision, the Chief Justice would have to assign a new judge to the 4-year-old case for the legal process to continue.
The Court has differed its reasons for the ruling to Friday, July 30, 2021.
Clemence Honyenuga, a justice of the Supreme Court, was sitting as an additional High Court Judge in the matter of the Republic against the former COCOBOD CEO, Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni.
Lawyers for Mr. Opuni had earlier argued that they wanted Justice Honyenuga to recuse himself from the case because he prejudged and determined the guilt of Dr. Opuni even before the accused person mounted the box.
Opuni’s lawyers had argued that Justice Honyenuga had voiced his eagerness to dispense off the case, so he could go back to his core duties at the Supreme Court. This according to the lawyers, had been manifested in all the judge’s rulings against Mr. Opuni in the ongoing case.
But Justice Honyenuga dismissed their motion, saying, “It is my candid opinion that the application was brought in bad faith. Accordingly, the motion is hereby dismissed”.
That was the third failed attempt by Opuni’s lawyers to get the judge to recuse himself.
Unsatisfied with the ruling, the lawyers for Mr. Opuni petitioned Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah and took the matter to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court’s latest ruling was a 3-2 majority decision presided over by Justice Jones Dotse.
The Presiding Judge, together with Justice Avril Lovelace-Johnson, dissented, while Justices Gabriel Pwamang, Agnes Dordzie, and Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu held for Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni.
The former COCOBOD CEO and Agricult Ghana Limited CEO, Seidu Agongo, are standing trial together with Agricult Ghana Limited for allegedly causing the state to lose over GHS 217 million in a cocoa fertilizer transaction.
Dr. Opuni and Mr. Agongo are facing 27 charges including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officers, and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges, and are on a ¢300,000 self-recognizance bail, each.
Agongo is alleged to have used fraudulent means to sell substandard fertiliser to the COCOBOD for onward distribution to cocoa farmers, while Dr. Opuni is accused of facilitating the act by allowing Agongo’s products not to be tested and certified as required by law.