Supreme Court removes Justice Honyenuga from COCOBOB trial

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The Supreme Court has by a majority decision prohibited the judge handling the trial of a former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, from presiding over the case.

A five-member panel of the apex court presided over by Justice Jones Dotse in a 3-2 majority decision also quashed a ruling of the trial judge, Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, a Justice of the Supreme Court, with additional responsibility as a High Court judge in the case.

Other members of the panel were Justices Gabriel Pwamang, Agnes Dordzie, Avril Lovelace -Johnson and Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu.

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The reasons for the court’s decision, according to the panel will be available at the court registry by Friday, July 30 this year.

Mr Opuni had also sought an order of prohibition to have Justice Honyenuga removed from the case, with an accusation that the judge had been bias towards him.

The former COCOBOD Boss and businessman Seidu Agongo, are standing trial for various roles they played in a COCOBOD fertilizer deal.

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The duo, who were not happy with the trial judge’s ruling on their submission of no case, petitioned the apex court, claiming the judge was unfair.

The legal team of the accused persons indicated that some comments of the judge presupposed that the outcome of the case before him had been pre-determined.

Against this background, Dr Opuni prayed the Chief Justice to hand over the case to another judge.

Counsel for the former COCOBOD boss Samuel Cudjoe argued that Justice Honyenuga violated the Evidence Act, 323, when he rejected an exhibit during the ruling on the submission of no case.

It was the case of Mr Cudjoe that per the Evidence Act, the trial judge should have allowed state prosecution to first object to the exhibit, before ruling on it.

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