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Court adjourns Opuni trial due to ‘system failure’

Source The Ghana Report

The financial loss case against former COCOBOD CEO Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, and businessman Seidu Agongo, could not proceed as expected and was adjourned to January 17, 2021.

This was due to a system failure at the first floor of the Accra High Court, the trial judge Clemence Honyenuga revealed shortly after the case was called.

“There is a problem, and the whole system is down, and I don’t know when it might be on for us to work, so it has to be adjourned.

“It is nobody’s fault, and we don’t know when it will be on so having heard about the enormity of the problem. We have to come next Monday, and let’s see how far things will go,” he explained.

The court was expected to continue with the evidence-in-chief of the former COCOBOD Chief Executive.

Meanwhile, the former COCOBOD boss has filed a motion at the Supreme Court challenging a ruling by the trial court dismissing his application for Justice Honyenuga to recuse himself.

Dr. Opuni had argued that Justice Honyenuga had been hostile towards him and was also exhibited bias against him.

On December 16, 2021, Justice Honyenuga rejected Dr. Opuni’s assertions and subsequently dismissed the application without merit.

The motion which has invoked the supervisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is expected to be heard by the apex court on February 8, this year.

Background

The former COCOBOD boss, Dr Opuni, and the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, an agrochemicals company, Seidu Agongo, are being tried over allegations of causing financial loss of more than GH₵271 million to the state.

The GH₵271 million alleged financial loss to the state is in respect of their engagement in illegalities in a series of fertiliser transactions, making the Attorney-General drag them to court in March 2018.

Agongo is alleged to have used fraudulent means to sell substandard fertiliser to COCOBOD for onward distribution to cocoa farmers.

Dr Opuni is also accused of facilitating the act by allowing Agongo’s products not to be tested and certified as required by law.

They have been charged with 27 counts, including allegedly engaging in illegalities leading to the distribution of sub-standard fertilisers to cocoa farmers.

The two have denied any wrongdoing and have pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them and are currently on a GH¢300,000 self-recognisance bail each.

Bribery Allegation

According to the facts of the case, Dr Opuni, on October 10, 2014, while he was the CEO of COCOBOD, agreed to permit his office to be influenced by an amount of GH₵25,000.

The second accused person, Mr Agongo, has also been accused of “endeavouring to influence the conduct of Stephen Kwabena Opuni in the performance of his duties as the CEO of COCOBOD by offering him an amount of GH₵25,000” on October 10, 2014.

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