NDC juggernauts invade court to support Opuni
The rank and file of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) stormed the Criminal Division of the Accra High Court yesterday to show solidarity with the former Chief Executive (CE) of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni.
The latter had filed a motion praying the presiding judge hearing his case, Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, to recuse himself on grounds of bias, and the court was to rule on the motion yesterday.
The opposition party members were led by the General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nkeitia, Chairman Samuel Ofosu Ampofu, former Attorney-General and ministers of Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong and Betty Mould Iddrisu, as well as the Special aid to Ex-President John Dramani Mahama, Joyce Bawa-Mogtar.
Others included the Communications Director, Sammy Gyamfi, National Organiser, Joseph Akamba, Barbara Serwaa Asamoah, Godwin Edudzi Tamakloe and Baba Jamal.
The application for the motion was moved by Samuel Codjoe, defence counsel for Dr Opuni, in view of certain decisions made by the court when his client filed a submission of no case, which the first accused person deemed they were in bad taste.
The trial judge, in dismissing the applications for no case, made some definite conclusions on the matter, which in the view of the applicant amounted to prejudgment or predetermination of the case.
The argument mounted by Mr Codjoe, to compel the trial judge to recuse himself from further hearing the case was on two grounds – the judge claiming that he was in a hurry to finish the case quickly to enable him continue with his work as a Supreme Court justice and also that his ruling on the submission of no case, turned out to be a final determination of the matter, when the accused had not yet opened his defence.
“This final determination, we submit to your lordship, has prejudged and determined the guilt of the first accused even before he mounts the box,” he stated, adding “It is our submission that we will not get a fair trial, therefore, we pray that you recuse yourself.”
The Chief State Attorney, Evelyn Keelson, on her part opposed the motion on the basis that the applicant had been given more than adequate time to open his defence and also there is nowhere in the ruling that the judge has found the applicant guilty and suggested a punishment for him.
She went on to say, if the accused person is not happy with the decision of the court, there is a window of appeal, which he can use to exercise his right, saying “there is no basis in law for this present application. He has not been able to convince the court of any credible evidence of bias.”
Mrs Keelson urged the court not entertain the application, as it is a calculated effort to further delay the trial, therefore, it must be dismissed.
However, Justice Honyenuga, after listening to the arguments for and against, as well as perusal of the motion documents filed in that respect, concluded that the application was indeed in bad faith and dismissed it.
He subsequently ordered the 1st accused person, who is standing trial with two others – Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited – to open his defence on the next adjourned date, June 18, 2021.