Opuni may be hallucinating in my court – Honyenuga
Justice Clemence Honyenuga, the trial judge hearing the case of Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni has told the Supreme Court that he has given the accused all the necessary facilities to defend himself.
The Supreme Court judge who is presiding over the case as an additional High Court judge, has been accused of “bias” and “hostility” in the ongoing trial.
Dr Opuni, the former Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Board Board and a businessman, Seidu Agongo, are standing trial over accusations of causing financial loss of more than GH¢271.3 million to the state in a series of fertiliser deals.
They have both denied any wrongdoing doing and standing trial.
However, the first accused person (Dr Opuni) through his lawyers has raised concerns about conduct of the trial judge and wanted him removed.
According to him, comments and pronouncement in the course of the trial including the judge asking that he ( Dr Opuni) should learn how to “speak the truth” led to the accused filing for him to be prohibited.
Justice Clemence Honyenuga also wondered if Dr Opuni “might have been hallucinating” anytime he appeared in court in his ruling asking for his recusal.
In his affidavit to the Supreme Court to oppose a motion to invoke the supervisory Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to quash his ruling on December 16, 2021 and to prohibit him from continuing with the trial, the judge denied allegations pertaining to his conduct of the case.
“In answer to paragraph 24, I state that my view was that if the applicant was not happy with my ruling he had a right to appeal but not to allege bias, and apply for certiorari and prohibition,” Justice Honyenuga stated.
“It had become necessary as the trial Judge to control and direct the proceedings to facilitate speedy and effective Justice, fair play and to avoid further delays in a criminal case which started about 4 years ago and still pending, even though it is a summary proceedings.”
He told the Supreme Court that, “I rely on my Ruling dated the 16th day of December, 2021 which is a true reflection of affairs and I hereby attach same marked as “CJI”.
He also stated that, “I never sat on my own case, for as a Judge, I am obliged to sit on every case or motion referred to me by the Chief Justice.”
Justice Honyenuga stated that, “I vehemently deny all that the applicant sought to portray in his affidavit in support because they never truthfully reflect events in the court room.”
The judge also denied that he breached article 19(2)(g) of the 1992 Constitution.
“I have not discriminated in the hearing of this case because all the facilities necessary for the applicant to conduct his case were provided. PW 1 to PW7 gave evidence and each was cross-examined by counsel for the applicant sometimes in weeks and in other cases months without let or hindrance. DWI had already testified for three sitting days and still counting,” he stated..
He explained that, the said submission of no case had been determined by the Review Bench of this court and there is no basis for DWI who is a witness, to be asked to react to it while giving evidence and a refusal can never amount to bias.
“The crux of the matter is that, it is the conduct of the applicant who falsely accused the court on utterly false basis completely not borne by the record of proceedings, in his motion and affidavit in support that culminated in the various statements in my ruling,” he stated.
He explained that, everything “I made in the ruling in question, was in specific reference to the motion before me and nothing more.”
“The allegations against me are not a reflection of the events that took place which resulted into “CJHI”, my ruling.”
The Supreme Court panel of five has since dismissed the motion for Certiorari and prohibition and same has been affirmed by Review panel of seven.
Dr Opuni was the CEO of the COCOBOD between November 2013 and January 2017, while Agongo is the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, an agrochemicals company.
They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and have been granted bail.
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