Opuni’s attempt to remove judge in COCOBOD trial dismissed

Source The Ghana Report

A former COCOBOD boss, Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, who is standing trial for causing financial loss to the state has once again failed in his attempts to remove a Supreme Court Justice Clemence Honyenuga, from presiding over the ongoing COCOBOD trial.

This was after the Criminal Court dismissed the recusal application which sought to suggest that the trial judge has been bias and hostile towards the former COCOBOD boss since he opened his defence.

Dr. Opuni’s argument is that Justice Honyenuga has said in open court that the evidence of his defence witness could not exonerate him.

“The learned judge has already made his mind even though my first witness has not yet completed his evidence-in-chief. I add that this comment is further evidence that the learned trial judge would not consider the evidence of my witness even though he has not yet completed his evidence-in-chief,” as stated in his application.

But reacting to these claims, on Thursday 16 December 2021, Justice Honyenuga said that the grounds of the application “are malicious and calculated efforts to delay the trial and also to seek public sympathy”.

In his ruling, the trial judge said the accused person failed to provide clear legal grounds to back the claim, hence the dismissal.

The court also indicated that it was a blatant lie for the accused person to have stated in his affidavit that the Judge had shown open hostility towards him.

Dr. Opuni had also petitioned the Chief Justice to assign a different judge to hear the motion seeking to remove the trial judge.

But reading the response of Justice Anin Yeboah, Justice Honyenuga stated that he has been authorized by the CJ to hear the pending motion.

“I have been directed by His Lordship the Chief Justice to inform you that he has carefully studied the contents of your petition and has not found any allegations of the likelihood of bias against the trial judge not to be fair in considering his right to determine an objection raised against his presence in the case.

“Additionally, the Chief Justice has indicated that it would not be in the interest of justice to transfer the motion to another judge to determine whether the judge is fit to sit on the motion.

“For the above-mentioned reasons the Chief Justice has refused the petition for transfer,” the reply written on behalf of the Chief Justice by the Judicial Secretary, Justice Cynthia Pamela Addo, noted.

The case has been adjourned to January 10, 2021.

Meanwhile, Dr. Opuni’s team has been ordered to file witness statements of the witnesses they intend to call before the next court date.

Read Also: Will the NDC ever forgive Justice Honyenuga

Former COCOBOD CEO Stephen Opuni leading the entourage after court proceedings


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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