The Supreme Court will on October 26, this year rule on a review application by the Attorney-General (A-G) challenging the court’s decision to prohibit the judge presiding over the trial of a former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni.
A seven -member review panel of the apex court, presided over by Justice Jones Dotse, fixed the date Tuesday, October 12, after listening to arguments from the A-G, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, and lawyer for Opuni, Mr Samuel Cudjoe.
“The decision of the ordinary bench contained fundamental and grave errors which have manifestly resulted in a substantial miscarriage of justice,” he said.
For Mr Cudjoe, the Supreme Court did not commit any error, but rather applied the law.
“It is obvious to us that this court acted properly. The judgement is sound and the applicant had not met the threshold,” he submitted.
Supreme Court decision
On July 28 this year, the Supreme Court in a 3-2 majority decision, prohibited Justice Honyenuga from presiding over the trial of Dr. Opuni, and a businessman, Seidu Agongo, who have been accused of causing financial loss of more than GH¢217 million to the state.
The court held that in dismissing a submission of no case filed by Dr. Opuni, Justice Honyenuga made certain pronouncements which could be interpreted that he (judge) had already found the accused persons guilty even before they opened their defence.
Such an act, the court held, gave rise to a likelihood of bias.
According to the court, Justice Honyenuga’s duty at the ruling on submission of no case was to establish whether or not a prima facie case had been made against the accused persons, but the pronouncements he made was as if the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
The majority decision was authored by Justice Gabriel Pwamang who was joined by Justices Agnes Dordzie and Issifu Omoro Tanko.
Justices Jones Dotse and Avril Lovelace-Johnson dissented.
Agongo has been accused of using 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 not allowing Agongo’s products to be tested and certified as required by law.
The two have denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to all the charges.