By Maxwell Ofori
A Large number of ministers from the immediate past Mahama administration and supporters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) ‘invaded’ the premises of the newly constructed Accra Court Complex, in solidarity with Dr Stephen Opuni, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Cocoa Board, who has been dragged to court over allegations of corruption labelled against him by the state.
Amongst them were; former Attorney General (AG) and minister for Justice, Madam Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, her Deputy, Dominic Ayine and former Fisheries minister, Sherry Ayitey.
Others were Julius Debrah, former Chief of Staff, Kojo Bonsu, former Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly boss, Kofi Adams, National Organiser of NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, General Secretary OF NDC and Joyce Bawa Mogtari, aide to former president John Dramani Mahama.
Their presence at the court was in accordance with a plea by John Mahama that party members should support accused persons of the past NDC administration when they are dragged to court.
Apart from the party executives and former appointees, party fanatics also congregated in front of the new Court Complex, aggressively seeking to enter the courtroom for the hearing of the case.
Some of the supporters who were denied entry, openly challenged the security men, but the latter stood their grounds.
Dr Stephen Opuni, The former COCOBOD CEO, Seidu Agongo and Agricult GH Ltd, owned by Seidu Agongo, are facing charges of causing financial loss to the state.
Dr Opuni is said to have been at the center of over GHC200million loss to the state.
Dr Stephen Opuni in February 2015, in Accra, procured the supply of a substance described as ‘Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser’, using funds without satisfying the prescribed conditions for single-sole source procurement.
According to the prosecution, he influenced the procurement process by misrepresenting facts to the Public Procurement Authority, in order to obtain unfair advantage in the award of a contract to Agricult Ghana Ltd.
Mr Seidu Agongo and the Agricult Ghana Ltd on the other hand are also being charged for selling adulterated fertilizer to COCOBOD in 2014 and 2016, contrary section 114(1)(c) of the Plants and Fertilizer Act, 2010 (Act 803).
They are again being charged on money laundering of the sum of GHC75, 289,314.72 and GHC98, 935,974.50, amounts the charge sheet described as proceeds of crime.
Appearing before Justice CJ Honyenuga, a Court of Appeal Judge sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court Judge, the three defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo led the prosecution team, comprising of her two deputies, Godfred Yeboah Dame and Joseph Dindiork-Kpenka, together with Chief State Attorney, Evelyn Keelson, Principal State Attorney, Frances Molen Ansah, as well as Stella Ohene Appiah, Richard Gyenbibi and Penina Asa Dankwah.
Representing the defendants were Samuel Cudjoe and Johnson Normesinu for Dr Opuni, Agricult and Seidu Agongo are also being represented by Benson Nutsukpi, Joel Annor Afari, Emmanuel Kumadey and Jemima Dei.
The trio were granted a self-recognisance bail to the tune of GHC300,000 each and have also been ordered to submit their passports with the court registry and that, they need to notify the director of CID whenever they want to travel outside the country.