Accra,– Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Justice of the Supreme Court, says there is no order of stay of proceedings by the Supreme Court, directing the High Court to discontinue the hearing of the Dr Stephen Opuni trial.
Dr Opuni, the former Chief Executive of COCOBOD, through his Counsel Samuel Codjoe, told the Court that they had filed a writ at the Supreme Court and prayed for adjournment, awaiting a determination of the writ.
The Court presided over by Justice Honyenuga, sitting as an additional High Court Judge, said the matter came to his attention only while sitting and the process was filed on October 24, 2021.
Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, willfully causing financial loss to the State, money laundering, corruption by a public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 self-recognizance bail, each.
“I remember that on July 1, 2021, l ruled and adjourned an application to invoke the original supervisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court because of the circumstance at that time.”
He said the Supreme Court had not ordered or restrained the High Court to stay proceedings, hence the trial would proceed for the accused person to open his defence.
Mr Codjoe said the writ sought an order for a perpetual injunction, restraining the High Court from continuing with the Trial, until all final findings of facts made against the accused person, which presumed them guilty were expunged.
He initially prayed that the Judge adjourn the matter awaiting the determination of the Supreme Court, because the determination of the case had a direct bearing on the case at the High Court.
Mrs Evelyn Keelson, Chief State Attorney opposed the prayer, saying on October 26, 2021, the Supreme Court ordered the High Court to continue the trial involving Dr Opuni and Agongo and see to its conclusion.
She said there was no order staying the proceedings in the High Court, adding that a mere filing of a writ by Dr Opuni was no reason why the Court would be mandated to stay proceedings.
The Chief State Attorney said contrary to what the Counsel for Dr Opuni stated, the writ itself was not seeking to set aside the order of the Court for Dr Opuni to open his defence but rather it was only asking for portions of the decision to be expunged.
“In the Unlikely events that those portions are expunged, the order for Dr Opuni to open his defence will still hold,” she added.
Mrs Keelson said the prosecution did not see how the writ should stay in the hands of the Court, indicating that if the Court allowed proceedings to be stayed, it would be setting a wrong precedent for all manner of applications to be filed by any of the accused persons to stall proceedings.
It was at this juncture that the Judge ordered Dr Opuni to open his defence.
Dr Opuni, therefore, opened his defence with the call on Mr Charles Dodoo, as the first defence witness.
Mr Dodoo is a retired public servant, who worked with the COCOBOD as a Director of Finance.
Source: Ghana News Agency