Justice Clemence Honyenuga, yesterday, stunned his courtroom when he described the ex-COCOBOD Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, as a man who is only hallucinating.
According to the trial judge, Dr Opuni is telling blatant lies calculated to cause public disaffection for him (trial judge), and must learn to speak the truth, adding that Dr Opuni is only looking for an opportunity to delay his trial.
Justice Honyenuga, who sounded rather angry, took on the application to have him vacate the case, saying “this motion is malicious and an attempts by first accused to catch public sympathy”, adding “it seems the first accused was hallucinating when I was speaking on the 2nd of December”.
“This motion is an attempt to delay this trial” and “the application is accordingly dismissed”.
This was after the Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, rejected a petition from Dr Opuni for Justice Honyenuga to recuse himself, following what the ex-COCOBOD boss, said was about the judge’s “bias and hostile” conduct against him.
Chief Justice Anin Yeboah’s rejection of Dr Opuni’s petition, thus allowed Justice Honyenuga to sit over the application, asking him to recuse himself from the case, although a case decided by retired Justice Georgian Wood, was cited by Dr Opuni’s lawyers led by Samuel Codjoe that doing so frowns on natural justice, because it meant one was sitting on his own case.
After angrily throwing the application, Justice Honyenuga, further ordered Dr Opuni and the other accused persons, to file the witness statements of their witnesses. This is irrespective of the fact that the prosecution was at no point before or during trial ordered to file witness statements for its witnesses.
The witness statements must be filed together with any documents before January 10, 2022.
The court also indicated that cross-examination of the accused persons would not exceed two days.
But what is strange about Justice Honyenuga’s sitting on the case against him and dismissing it was that the same Chief Justice AninYeboah, had come under criticism over a case involving the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Assin North, Kennedy Agyapong, where a judge was asked to return to the case he had earlier been taken away from.
Manasseh Azure Awuni, has reported his checks have revealed that Anas Aremeyaw Anas sued Kennedy Agyapong for defamation in 2018.
Justice Daniel Mensah (Dormaahene) was the judge handling the case, but he was in the later part of 2020, transferred to Tema, while a Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Eric Baah, was appointed interim judge to handle the case pending the appointment of a substantive judge.
In June 2021, a substantive judge, Justice Gifty Agyei-Addo, the judge who overturned the General Legal Council’s suspension of Francis Xavier Sosu from practicing as a lawyer, was appointed to continue the case.
On December 1, 2021, Anas and his team discovered in court that the substantive judge had been taken off the case and the interim judge, from Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Eric Baah, had returned.
The plaintiff had no idea what had happened. They were given an explanation. On the blind side of Anas and his legal team, Kennedy Agyapong, had written to the Chief Justice to request that the interim judge return to continue the case.
The reason Kennedy Agyapong and his lawyers gave was that the interim judge had “observed the demeanour of the parties and is abreast with details of the case, including its nature and scope.”
The substantive judge, Kennedy Agyapong said, would take time to familiarise herself with the case. “She also does not have the benefit of the demeanour of the witnesses so far.”
A week after receiving Kennedy Agyapong’s letter, Chief Justice Anin Yeboah, directed Justice Eric Baah to go back and continue the case, as Kennedy Agyapong requested in his letter to the Chief Justice.
When Anas and his legal team expressed their confusion upon seeing the interim judge in court, Justice Eric Baah, said he had been directed by the Chief Justice to continue the case, and added that Anas and his team were expected to have been served with Kennedy Agyapong’s petition and the Chief Justice’s directive, but that was not done.
Interestingly, former Inspector General of Police, David Asante-Appeatu, has also discontinued the defamation case he filed against Kennedy Agyapong and television presented Justice Kwaku Annan.
Mr Asante-Apeautu, had sued the two over comments they made against him on Net 2 television’s ‘The Seat’ talk show.
No explanation or further details were given for the decision.
During the last sitting of the case last week, the court was thrown into shock when the presiding judge, Justice Ekow Baiden, openly cautioned lawyers for the ex-police chief about their case, saying that “they [the lawyers] do not know the people they are dealing with”.
A transcript of what transpired in court on that day as captured in the New Crusading Guide newspaper showed the trial judge literally admonished the plaintiff to back down on their action or gave the indication that they may not find justice.
Justice Ekow Baiden, is reported to have withdrawn from the case.
Meanwhile, the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, last week cited Opuni’s case as part of the corrupt cases being pursued by his government.
Speaking at the National Anti-Corruption Conference on Friday, December 10, 2021, President Akufo-Addo said, as part of his fight against corruption, his government, through the Attorney General, was prosecuting some high-profile persons for various offences, including fraud, economic crime, procurement breaches and money laundering.
President Akufo-Addo, said the Office of the Attorney General and the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), in addition to the countless cases being prosecuted around the country, have successfully prosecuted a number of high-profile cases, including a case of stealing in the Republic vs. Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie & Others.
“Many other high-profile prosecutions involving corruption, economic crime, fraud, procurement breaches and money laundering, like the Republic vs. Alhaji Collins Dauda& 4 Others in the Saglemi Scandal; Republic vs. Ernest Thompson & Others; Republic vs. Dr Kwabena Duffuor& Others; Republic vs. Stephen Opuni& Others, are ongoing. It is worthy to note that these cases have, as their sole object, the principle of holding public officers to account, and involve sums in excess of $850 million and GH₵2 billion,” he added.
Evelyn Keelson, was in court for the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Yvonne Attakora Obuobisa, was not in court.
Lawyer Joel Annor Afari, holding brief for lawyer Benson Nutsupui, represented the second and third accused persons.
Justice Honyenuga, dismissed the application, saying 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. Stephen Opuni and a businessman, Seidu Agongo, are facing trial for allegedly causing 217 million dollars financial loss to the state.
Upon receipt of a two-week medical excuse for the lawyer for the first accused person, Samuel Codjoe, proceedings have been adjourned to Monday, January 10, 2022, for continuation.