The trial of former COCOBOD CEO Stephen Opuni has been put on ice following a fresh application to remove Supreme Court Justice Clemence Honyenuga as the substantive judge.
When the case was called on Monday, January 17, Justice Honyenuga said, “the court has been served with a motion to the Supreme Court for prohibition and certiorari to prohibit me from continuing to hear the case. It is appropriate to adjourn the matter to await the decision of the Supreme Court”.
This is not the first time the former COCOBOD boss is making a move to bar Justice Honyenuga off the case. He had earlier filed an application before the same trial court to get the judge to recuse himself.
The application was then dismissed by the court, which held that the recusal application was brought in bad faith.
The hearing of that particular application was made possible after the Chief Justice dismissed a petition which asked for a different judge to hear the application for recusal.
Also, on July 28, 2021, an earlier panel of five, in a three-two majority decision stopped Justice Honyenuga from presiding over the case in which Dr Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo, are standing trial for various roles they played in a COCOBOD fertiliser deal.
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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.
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.