…Tells him “Your adoption procedure is totally unknown to our law”
A former president of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), lawyer Benson Nutsukpui, has expressed surprise and deep concern about the “pains” inflicted by the new trial judge sitting on ex-COCOBOD boss, Dr Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo, in their ongoing criminal case before Accra High Court.
Justice Aboagye Tandoh’s decision is accused of neglecting the parties in his adoption of proceedings, which Mr Nutsukpui, said was riddled with “mistakes”.
Interestingly, Mr Nutsukpui’s application to stay proceedings pending the determination of an interlocutory appeal of the court’s July 25 decision that adopted the proceedings he said, had errors was unsuccessful.
Speaking to his affidavit in support of the motion on Thursday, October 26, Lawyer Nutsukpui, who is representing the businessman Seidu Agongo, in the trial, reiterated that “What this court is purported to have adopted is not qualified for the proceedings”.
He added, “My Lord we are also at pains to point out that the documents which were put together for the appeal of the prosecution had a lot of mistakes and we even brought same to the attention of the court of appeal when they were hearing the matter, so that the applicant’s application has a very bright chance of success.”
Counsel had early on pointed out that, “the procedure adopted by this honourable court in adopting this proceedings is totally unknown to our law. And the proper procedure and practice for adopting proceedings before our courts is to ensure that proceedings put together are corrected before adoption.
“That was not done in the instant case. It’s our position that proceedings should ordinarily be the regular progression of a case including all acts and events, including the time of commencement and at the time of adoption. So that parties and the court can easily be referred to what has been adopted.
“In this case we don’t know what has been adopted.”
Earlier, counsel for Dr. Opuni, lawyer Samuel Codjoe who moved the motion had to truncate the application after the judge refused to oblige his request to adjourn the case to enable him to appear before a judge who is senior to Justice Tandoh, when time was almost due for that case.
“I have to reluctantly, and with protest, will have to end my application to enable me appear [before your senior]”, lawyer Codjoe submitted.
“I would have wished to be present and hear what the prosecution and the second and third accused persons have to say, but I’m unable to because of the ruling of this court,” he said and bowed out of court.
But the application was vehemently opposed by the prosecution led by Chief State Attorney, Evelyn Keelson who earlier informed the court of her decision to “waive affidavit in opposition” because it was not served on the court or counsel for the second and third accused persons.
“My Lord we submit that there is no legal basis for parties to go through proceedings together with the court before same is adopted by the court.
“We submit that this court rightly adopted the proceedings in this case once the court was seized with proceedings and had directed parties to apply for same. The proceedings as adopted by this court are therefore proceedings before this court properly constituted.”
Meanwhile, Justice Tandoh, who recently returned from a trip to London has maintained that the adoption of proceedings “is a sole decision of the trial judge”, ruling that “this application is devoid of merit and no exceptional circumstances to warrant the stay of proceedings.”
The former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr. Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo as well as Agricult Ghana Limited, are facing 27 charges, including willfully causing financial loss to the state and contravention of the Public Procurement Act in the purchase of Lithovit liquid fertiliser between 2014 and 2016.
The hearing continues today, October 30, 2023, at the High Court [Land Court 2].
Justice Tandoh is the third trial judge sitting on the case after Judge Clemence Jackson Honyenuga and Justice Kwasi Anokye, who was strangely transferred to Kumasi after a few proceedings.
Interestingly, he had insisted on starting the case fresh saying the previous records were saddled with controversy including accusations that Justice Honyega was biased, and had once been asked by his peers at the Supreme Court to step down from the case.