Dame, Opuni’s lawyer battle it out in court

October 13, 2021 By 0 Comments

The Supreme Court will, on October 26, determine the review application filed by the Attorney-General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, challenging the 3-2 decision it made restrained Justice Clemence Honyenuga from further hearing the case of Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni and two others.

The justices hearing the review application are Justice Jones Dotse, Justice Avril Lovelace-Johnson, Justice Gabriel Pwamang, Justice Agnes Dordzie, Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu, Justice Prof Nii Ashei Kotey, and Justice Gertrude Torkornoo.

Justice Honyenuga had, for the past four years, presided over the case in which Dr Opuni, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Seidu Agongo and his company, Agricult Ghana Limited, had been charged with causing financial loss to the state in the sum of GH¢217 million.

The ruling to stop him from further hearing the case was, however, made on Friday, July 30, 2021.

But Godfred Yeboah Dame, who is challenging the ruling of the Supreme Court, argued yesterday that the said decision contained fundamental errors.

He contended that: “The decision of the ordinary bench of this Supreme Court, dated July 28, 2021, contained fundamental and grave errors, which have manifestly resulted in a substantial miscarriage of justice, as it effectively ignored the time-honoured fundamental and mandatory preconditions for an invocation of the Supreme Court’s supervisory jurisdiction for an order of certiorari to quash an alleged error contained in a decision of a Superior Court.”

Mr Dame argued that “a decision, which erroneously departs from recognised principles regarding the invocation of this Honourable Court’s supervisory jurisdiction, is bad in law, works manifest injustice, and constitutes an exceptional circumstance warranting a review by the court.”

The Minister added that “the ordinary bench committed a fundamental error, resulting in a substantial miscarriage of justice, when it wrongly construed sections 118 and 126 of the Evidence Act, 1975 (NRCD 323) on the law on hearsay evidence. The effect of the erroneous construction of sections 118 and 126 of the Evidence Act, was to, without compelling reasons, change the law on hearsay. This constitutes an exceptional circumstance resulting in a gross miscarriage of justice.”

“That the ordinary bench committed a fundamental error in prohibiting the trial judge, who rightly performed his duty as required by law to evaluate the evidence adduced by the prosecution, in order to make a determination, whether a prima facie case had been made against the respondent. This error has occasioned a substantial miscarriage of justice.

“It is our humble submission that a careful application of relevant principles regarding the invocation of both the supervisory and review jurisdictions of the court will undoubtedly result in a setting aside of the decision complained of. To preserve same will be a bad and dangerous precedent for Ghana law,” he said.

Based on these ground, Mr Dame warned that if the decision was maintained and not corrected, it would open the floodgate for other cases at the High Court.

Nonetheless, defence counsel for Dr Opuni rebutted that what the A-G had put forth was nothing new from the case the court ruled against. He said the presiding judge was in breach for making a predetermined conclusion when the accused has not opened his defence.To him, the 3-2 decision of the Court to prohibit Justice Honyenuga was trim and proper, and must be maintained.

By Bernice Bessey & Jennifer Ambolley