A Supreme Court Judge, with an additional responsibility as a High Court Judge, Justice Clement Honyenuga, has issued a stern warning to businessman, Seidu Agongo, that he will no longer accept his absenteeism excuses.
Justice Honyenuga has been compelled to adjourn sitting for about three conservative times, due to excuse duty from Mr Agongo, second accused (A2) person in the cocoa trial.
Seidu Agongo, together with his company, Agricult Ghana Limited (A3) and the former Chief Executive (CE) of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni (A1), are being tried for money laundering, corruption of public office, violation of the Procurement Act, defrauding by false pretences and wilfully causing financial loss to the state, to the tune of GH¢2.1 billion.
They have pleaded not guilty to all the twenty seven charges and are on GHS300,000.00 self-recognisance bail each.
Admitting to the fact that he has a limited time to hear the case, Justice Honyenuga said: “I must again emphasis that on that day, I will take no excuse for an adjournment, the seventh defence witness (DW7) will continue his evidence in this court at 10am.”
He gave the order while urging Seidu Agongo’s legal counsel, Nutififa Nutsukpi, who was holding brief for Benson Nutsukpi, that the court has enormous powers to continue the case.
His Lordship also indicated that the second accused’s bail condition is subject to the court’s discretion.
The court asserted that it adjourned the case for the second time just to give the second accused the benefit of doubt “and I will again give him the final benefit of doubt, especially when the efforts from the Registrar, who was to verify from the 37 Military Hospital whether the second accused person was in admission or not ended futile.”
This was as the Registrar told the court that: “My Lord, yesterday, just after the court sitting, I managed to contact Captain Konda at the 37 Military Hospital.
He told me that since there has been a new change of management at the hospital, I should call one Chiyaw and give him the feedback.
My Lord, around 1:30pm, I called him several times, but he didn’t pick. So my Lord, this morning I went to see him personally. When we reached there around 8:45 am, they said they were going to have a meeting at 9:00 am. So they can attend to me after their meeting. My Lord, I told them about the situation. That is all.
Court: Who did you meet today!?
Registrar: My Lord, I met some officers there …
Court: So it means you didn’t meet the medical officer?
Registrar: Yes my Lord.
The court, therefore, said A2 has been given an excuse duty for one week and by which “at the last adjourned date, I expressed my difficulty to have to adjourn the case because of the actions of the second accused person on grounds of excuse duty.
As I indicated, I have very limited time to try this matter and so such medical excuses are delaying the case. I must state that this court has discretion to accept or reject medical report.
I must also add that the second accused is on bail and is still subject to this court’s discretion.
I must also add that this court has enormous powers to continue any proceeding.
At the last adjourned date, I also indicated that I was giving the second accused the benefit of doubt and I will again give him the final benefit of doubt, especially when the efforts from the Registrar, who was to verify from the 37 Military Hospital whether the second accused person was in admission or not became futile.
I am aware that the application for review comes on tomorrow at the supreme court, in the circumstances, I will adjourn this case to the 20th February for continuation. And I must again emphasis that on that day, I will take no excuse for an adjournment, DW7 will continue his evidence in this court at 10am.”