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Continue with Opuni trial – Supreme Court directs Justice Hornyenugah

A five-member panel of the Supreme Court presided over by Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah has ordered the trial judge in Justice Clemence Hornyenugah to continue hearing the trial of Dr Stephen Opuni.

Dr. Stephen Opuni, the former Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD is challenging the judge’s decision not to stay proceedings while it was a subject matter before the Court of Appeal and asking the apex court to stop the judge from hearing the case.

The panel which also includes Justice Jones Dotse, Justice Sule Gbedegbe, Justice Nene Amegatchar, and Justice Gertrude Torkuno unanimously dismissed the application.

The court ruled that the application brought to quash the decision of the High Court not to stay proceedings and also to stop the trial court for hearing the trial was not supported by law.

The court while dismissing the application directed the trial judge Justice Hornyenuggah, a Supreme Court judge, sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge to proceed with the trial.

Subject Matter

In a Certiorari application filed by lawyers of Dr Opuni who together with Siedu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited are standing trial at the High Court for causing financial loss to the state, argued that the trial judge Justice Clemence Jackson Hornyenugah erred in law when he allowed proceedings to go on while his attention had been drawn to a Stay of Proceedings at the Court of Appeal.

Lawyer Mr Samuel Codjoe argued that, the trial judge acted in clear disregard to the law, in spite of the pendency of the of Stay of Proceedings application at the Court of Appeal.

According to counsel, the judge acted in excess of his jurisdiction as per the rules of Constitutional Instrument (CI)19 as amended by CI21, and therefore invoking the coersive jurisdictions of the apex court against the trial judge.

He said “once we filed our Stay of Proceedings at Court of Appeal and once the High Court’s attention was drawn to it, it has to hold on proceedings untill the determination at the Court of Appeal.

He further argued that, the High Court after dismissing their application ought to have given then seve days, but between June 26 and July 6 when the court the case to was not within the seven days period allowed by law.

While concluding his argument to the court, counsel said: “It is my position that the learned judge acted in breach of the rules of the court” and pray the court grant their application.

AG opposes

Mrs Stella Ohene Appiah, a Principal State Attorney while opposing to the motion said the application asking for the Court of Appeal to stay proceedings had long been dismissed.

The Principal State Attorney stated that an application for stay of proceedings doesn’t automatically operate as stay of proceedings, and therefore urged the court not to entertain the motion.

Mrs Ohene after making references to the rules under the C119 and CI21 further urged the court to dismiss the application.

Dr Opuni and Mr Seidu Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by 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-recognisance bail each.

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