New Judge Takes Over Opuni’s COCOBOD Trial

Source The Ghana Report

The trial of the former COCOBOD CEO Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, and businessman Seidu Agongo, is now before a new judge.

The duo who have been accused of causing financial loss of more than GH₵271 million to the state, on countless occasions have tried to remove the retired Justice Clemence Honyenuga, from presiding over the trial.

Justice Honyenuga, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court sitting as an additional High court judge, has been hearing the trial since 2018.

But Dr Opuni accused the judge of being biased and hostile towards him since he opened his defence. They also asked the judge to prohibit himself on the ground that he had reached the statutory retirement age of 70.

After several dismissed recusal applications and attempts to remove the trial judge, the accused persons have finally succeeded in removing the retired judge.

The case is now before the Land Court, presided by Justice Kwasi Anokye Gyimah.

The prosecution led by Chief State Attorney Evelyn Keelson entreated the court to adopt the previous court proceedings when she appeared before the court on Thursday, March 30.

She insists starting the trial ‘De Novo’ would amount to an injustice to the state. De novo is a Latin term that means “anew,” “from the beginning,” or “afresh.” A trial de novo is a new trial on an entire case, where both questions of fact and issues of law are determined as if there had been no trial in the first instance.

Mrs Keelson contended that the matter had travelled to the Supreme Court and various rulings had been delivered.

The team also mentioned that it had closed its case two years ago and Dr Opuni had filed as many as 60 applications, adding that starting the case afresh would be a delay on the part of the accused person.

But the defence team disagreed.

Counsel for Dr Opuni, Samuel Cudjoe, said the state should file an application in respect of the trial so they could also file their response.

Mr Cudjoe explained that the adoption of proceedings could be done in civil matters but not in criminal matters.

Adding his voice, counsel for the second accused, Benson Nutsuikpi, stressed that the practice should start de novo and the Supreme Court ruling was clear on such cases.

The trial judge Justice Anokye Gyimah after listening to the parties said “I will adjourn to April 4 to enable the court to interrogate some of the issues raised”.

He urged the parties to submit the references and authorities they have alluded to in their submissions to assist the court to give its direction.


The former COCOBOD boss, Dr Opuni, and the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, 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, pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them, and are currently on a GH¢300,000 self-recognisance bail each.

Read Also: Will the NDC ever forgive Justice Honyenuga


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”.

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