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Opuni Trial Back On Track

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THE TRIAL of former Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, and Seidu Agongo, who have been accused of causing over GH¢217 million financial loss to the state, resumed before an Accra High Court yesterday.

The trial was temporarily put on hold as a result of some interlocutory applications filed at the Supreme Court by Dr. Opuni, through his lawyer, which sought to prohibit Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Supreme Court judge sitting as an additional High Court judge, from further hearing the case.

The application for certiorari and prohibition at the Apex Court alleged what he claims to be ‘open hostility’ towards him by the trial judge and “his acts and conducts are such that justice cannot be said to be seen to be done.”

The Supreme Court dismissed the application on grounds that the record does not reflect personal interest by the trial judge in the matter or the making of derogatory statements, neither did it find the likelihood of bias by the judge for which reason it ought to prohibit him.

Not satisfied with the decision, his lawyer filed an application for review of the ordinary bench’s decision, but that application was also dismissed for not meeting the threshold for invoking the review jurisdiction of the court.

The trial at the High Court resumed with Nutifafa Nutsukpui, counsel for Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited, cross-examining Dr. Opuni’s first witness, Charles Tetteh Kwao Dodoo, a former Director of Finance at COCOBOD, which focused on the 2013/2014 budget of COCOBOD.

He asked the witness whether the 2013/14 budget was approved in November 2013 and Mr. Dodoo said that was not exactly the case because in November 2013, it was clear that, there was going to be changes on the composition of the board and the discussion then was to allow the new board to handle the budget.

He then asked the witness whether the decision by the new board to review the 2013/14 budget, which included the expansion of the area for fertiliser coverage was influenced by either Seidu Agongo or Agricult. But the witness said he is not aware.

“As far as you are aware, no supplier of goods or services to COCOBOD participates or influences these procurement processes you are describing in this court,” Mr. Nutsukpui asked.

“My Lord, I have no knowledge of any supplier of goods and services having an influence in these processes. The suppliers or their representative come often to COCOBOD to follow up on their issues,” Mr. Dodoo replied.

Hearing continues on March 28.

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