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Supreme Court turns down request to remove Justice Dotse from Opuni case

The Supreme Court has turned down a request by former COCOBOD CEO Dr Stephen Opuni, seeking the recusal of Justice Jones Dotse from hearing a review case.

The legal team of Dr Opuni had filed a recusal application against Justice Dotsee on grounds that there may be a likelihood of bias in his ruling as a review panel member in the case in which Dr Opuni is seeking the removal of another Supreme Court justice.

In his affidavit, the former COCOBOD boss noted that his attention has been drawn to a widely circulated internet publication by Kelvin Taylor, a Ghanaian broadcaster in the United States of America, in which an alleged meeting between the Attorney General and Justice Doste is said to have taken place.

Mr Taylor, in his broadcast on October 15, said the Attorney General went to the office of Justice Dotse, the presiding judge and had an extensive meeting with him. This meeting, Dr Opuni says the broadcast revealed, lasted for over two hours.

The bone of contention is the alleged meeting is said to have taken place days after the court had heard oral arguments with regards to the removal of Justice Clemence Honyenuga.

This meeting, according to Dr Opuni’s legal team casts serious doubts of the impartiality of Justice Jones Dotse.

“That I state that the said two-hour meeting which, according to the broadcast of the said Kevin Taylor, took place on the said Friday the 15th day of October 2021 after the hearing of the oral arguments on Tuesday, the 12th day of October 2021 in respect of the review application, leaves me in serious doubts of the impartiality of his Lordship Justice Jones Dotse in the review application and convinces me that the Attorney General intends to use all means to ensure that I am convicted,” he said in his affidavit.

He, therefore, wants Justice Dotse to recuse himself.

But Justice Dotse, in a response, insisted a case meriting his recusal has not been made.

He explained that while serving as Acting Chief Justice during the absence of the Chief Justice, Anin Yeboah, from Monday, October 11, 2021 to Monday, October 18, 2021, he met the Attorney-General. The discussion, he said centered around matters concerning the Ghana School of Law as he had also assumed the position of Acting Chairman of the General Legal Council.

“Indeed, anybody with sound legal knowledge and training will understand that in the course of our work as Judges, it is normal for Judges of my stature and the Attorney General and senior staff of the Office of Attorney General and Ministry of Justice to come into contact on a regular basis.

“Some of the institutions by which these contacts take place include the Judicial Council and its many Committees, the Rules of Court Committee, the General Legal Council, the Legal Service Board, to mention a few. Apart from issues touching the Ghana School of Law (GSL.), which I discussed with the Attorney General on the October 15, 2021 and which did not last more than 20 minutes, I believe that the instant application has been actuated by malice and poor judgment,” he explained.

A five-member panel, presided over by Justice Gabriel Pwamang, however, refused the recusal application on the basis that Dr Opuni did not support his application with any reasonable grounds.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has reinstated Justice Clemence Honyenuga to continue hearing the trial in which the former COCOBOD boss Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo, is standing trial for causing financial loss to the state.

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