Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, who retires from the bench on September 4, 2022, at his last sitting before the legal vacation, got fired up in court, momentarily, as he accuses lawyers of tempting him to react, in order for the media to write “stupid things” about him.
Obviously unamused by the occasional media bashing for his utterances and actions in court, the judge tried all he could to restrain himself from exploding further in the face of being taunted.
Justice Honyenuga is the judge in charge of the ongoing criminal trial of former COCOBOD Chief Executive Dr. Stephen Opuni and Chief Executive Officer of Agricult Ghana Ltd, Seidu Agongo which started in March 2018, bothering on the sale of Lithovit liquid fertiliser between 2014 and 2016.
He suggested that Dr Opuni’s lead counsel, Samuel Codjoe was fond of playing to the gallery for the media to attack him.
“I don’t want people to write stupid things about me,” Justice Honyenuga asserted in court on July 28, 2022.
The judge had asked lawyer Codjoe to conclude his examination in chief in one hour as he directed at the end of the previous sitting.
Lawyer Codjoe protested that, the prosecution were not given such directives but were allowed to prosecute their case unhindered without being timed.
Justice Honyenuga, felt lawyer Codjoe’s protestation was becoming one to many.
“Why do you like challenging me?” the judge asked lawyer Codjoe. He went further to advise counsel that his posturing wasn’t the best, noting that he practiced for 21 years at the bar before joining the bench as a High Court judge.
“Is it that when you say anything we should accept it?” lawyer Codjoe replied.
But Justice Honyenuga, who reiterated that “stupid things” have been written about him in the media and did not want to court any public backlash again, repeatedly told counsel, “I don’t want to say anything”.
After a short back and forth, the judge just gave in and asked lawyer Codjoe to go ahead with his examination in chief of the Seventh defence witness, Mr Peter Okyere Boateng, a former Deputy Executive Director of Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of COCOBOD without giving him any time frame.
However, when lawyer Codjoe neared the one-hour mark, the judge enquired if he needed minutes or hours to conclude.
Lawyer Samuel Codjoe told Justice Honyenuga that it would be in minutes. He went and concluded his examination of the witness in about 10 minutes later.
It would be recalled that Justice Clemence Honyenuga has in the past had unhealthy confrontations with lawyer Codjoe with the latter being told to stop “showing off in his court” in one of the banters, as well as having brushes with Dr. Opuni.
Justice Honyenuga, in December 2021, whilst delivering his ruling on an application for his recusal, launched a scathing attack on the person of Dr. Opuni, questioning the accused’s mental health.
“I think that the first accused must have been hallucinating when DW1 gave evidence because no such thing happened as the first accused has stated in paragraph 17 in his affidavit in support,” the judge said in an open court whilst reading his written ruling.
He also accused Dr. Opuni of spewing lies.
“Further, the averment in paragraph 11 is the imagination of the first accused and a blatant lie calculated to throw dust in the eyes of everyone.”
Meanwhile, Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga who turns 70 on September 4, 2020, has indicated that the Chief Justice has extended his retirement to enable him conclude the over four-year-old case.
The trial is expected to resume on October 3 after the two-month legal vacation.