–After Petition To Chief Justice On Justice Honyenuga’s Bias & Hostile Conduct
There was a heated exchanged between lawyers of Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Yvonne Attakora-Obuobisa, following the announcement that the Chief Justice, has been petitioned over the conduct of Justice Clemence Honyenuga.
Last Monday’s proceedings had to be suspended to await the directives from the Chief Justice, Kwesi Anin-Yeboah on Dr. Opuni’s petition, demanding a new Judge to hear the motion pending at the High Court asking Justice Honyenuga to recuse himself for exhibiting “bias tendencies and open hostility towards”.
The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), had also claimed that she had not been served both the motion, as well as the petition served on the court and Chief Justice, saying “My Lord, I indicated to the Court I have not seen it; nothing had been brought to the Prosecution Division”.
She, however, had wanted the day’s proceedings to continue, despite the motions, as well as the petition against Justice Honyenuga’s conduct.
Yvonne Attakora-Obuobisa argued that “My Lord, the case had been fixed for today the 13th of December, 2021. Counsel for the 1st accused person is aware the case was fixed for continuation of hearing today. My Lord, he could have fixed the stay of proceeding to be heard today, rather than on Thursday. Especially so because there is such a precedence in respect of this same case before the Supreme Court”.
Lawyer Samuel Codjoe, had introduced the subject, saying that “My Lord, we filed the motion on Friday and this morning we on our own served a copy of the petition together with a copy of the motion on the Attorney General’s Department and they acknowledged receipt and it was served on Gladys Dery. My Lord you will notice that the petition was signed today”.
After his introduction, the DPP retorted that “My Lord, I indicated to the Court I have not seen it; nothing had been brought to the Prosecution Division”.
Despite not seeing the documents filed by Dr. Opuni’s lawyer, he should quickly go ahead and argue out his case for stay of proceedings citing cases to back her position.
“Counsel for the 1st Accused person filed a civil motion on the 25th October, 2021 when the case was set for the 26th October, 2021 the determination of the review panel was for the 26th, this was the moved before the review panel gave its decision.
“My Lord, counsel for the 1st accused knew that this case was fixed for the 13th and 16th of December, 2021. So My Lord, he could have fixed the determination of this case for today 13th December, 2021. My Lord, I rely on The Republic Vs High Court Commercial Division Ex parte Dakpem Zobogunaa Henry Kaleem Civil Appeal No. J5/6/2015, dated June, 2015.
“The Supreme Court Ansah JSC held that the fact that an application for stay of application is pending did not operate to stay proceedings. My Lord, the motion for Your Lordship to recuse to yourself has not yet been determine and must not operate as stay.
“My Lord in Dakpem the Supreme Court held that the filling of stay which had been determining yet could not operate as a stay till the matter is determined. My Lord, the date that we agreed on and which was the date set by this court must be respected and the case should be continued. We can come on the 16th December 2021 and take the motion.
Mr. Codjoe, rebutted the DPPs argument, saying the court cannot proceed to hear the matter of the stay of proceedings by virtue of “the binding Matilda Baidoo case, the Awusu case and the TsatsuTsikata case this court cannot go ahead with the case until the motion has been adjudicated upon”.
“My Lord, my first point is the learned DPP is urging this court to engage in an act which is strictly prohibited by decided cases which by virtue of Article 129 (3) of the 1992 Constitution is binding on this court. My Lord, I will state that in Tsatsu Tsikata Vs the Republic My Lord, it is Criminal Appeals No. H2/5/2009. “My Lord, it was delivered on the 18th day of December, 2008”.
“My Lord, I will also refer My Lord, to the case of The Republic Vs High Court, Exparte Agbeshie Awusu II No.2 and it is reported in 2003 to 2004 Vol.2 of SCGLR at page 907. And My Lord, Wood JSC as she then was held that in the case where allegations of bias, the Judge should not sit on the motion which seems his recusal and that if the judge sat on such a case that will be a breach of the rules of natural Justice”.
“My Lord, my learned friend also referred to the fact that when I filed the motion, I fixed date for Thursday the 16th day of December, 2021 and that this was wrongful and that I should have chosen as the date for hearing.
“This accusation is without any basis whatsoever. When it comes to giving date and more importantly, even as we are in Court today, they have still not been served. I will add that the conduct of DPP in opposing the application when she has not seen it is most unfortunate because by the binding Matilda Baidoo case, the Awusu case and the TsatsuTsikata case this court cannot go ahead with the case until the motion has been adjudicated upon.
“In fact the submission of the learned DPP is unconstitutional as being in breach of Article 129 (3) which makes it mandatory that this High Court is bound by the decision of both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court on this matter. My Lord, that is all.
Justice Honyenuga, a Justice of the Supreme Court, who is sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge who had also been accused of giving preferential treatment to the Attorney General to the detriment of Dr. Opuni, in response fixed tomorrow Thursday, December 16, 2021 to continue the matter after hearing from the Chief Justice”.
He stated that “the 1st Accused has filed a motion in this court for me to rescue myself from hearing the case and he has also petitioned the Chief Justice to hear the motion in the circumstances, I will suspend the hearing of the substantive matter fixed for today and adjourned to the 16th of December, 2021 to await the decision or the directive of the Chief Justice”.
Dr. Opuni’s motion asking the judge to step aside had stated that, “The conduct of His Lordship Justice Clemence Honyenuga since I opened my defence is one of open hostility towards me, his acts and conduct is such that justice cannot be said to be seen to be done,” the affidavit in support of the motion file on Friday, December 10, 2021 stated.
Dr. Opuni, Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited are standing trial for 27 charges for allegedly causing financial loss to the state, defrauding by false pretences, conspiracy to commit crime, abetment of crime, money lingering, and corruption by public officer and contravention of the PPA Act.
Together, they are accused of causing a financial loss of over GH¢217 million to the state through the sale and purchase of the controversial Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser, which according to the prosecution, was never tested.
They have all pleaded not guilty to the charges and have been granted bail.