Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga stunned the High court on Wednesday when he suggested that it was impossible for a healthy person to get sick within days.
“By court, I am equally surprised at the turn of event because the witness looked very energetic to fall sick within two days,” he stated, sounding perplexed.
Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Justice of the Supreme Court, who is sitting with an additional responsibility as a High Court judge, has been hearing the ongoing trial of former COCOBOD boss, Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo.
The case, that has travelled well over four years, has been cited as a politically motivated trial and has seen several, albeit unsuccessful, applications asking for the recusal of the judge.
When the case was called on May 18, Dr. Opuni’s counsel, Samuel Codjoe told the court the defence witness, Samuel Torbi was unable to attend the day’s sitting because he is on admission at the emergency ward of the Ridge Hospital in Accra.
“Yesterday (Tuesday), he sent through another person to bring an envelope containing a Ridge Hospital excuse duty indicating that he is presently on admission at the emergency ward of the hospital. My lord. I called him this morning after I opened and read the content of the envelope and he said he is at the hospital and at that emergency ward. He informed me that the Doctors are saying that they want to conduct further test on him and that they have assured him that after they conduct this test ,he will be released at the weekend,” lawyer Codjoe informed the court.
He further stated, “My lord I asked that he gets a medical report so that I can show it to the court but he told me that that the doctors said they don’t give medical records to the court unless the court request for it.”
Counsel also informed the court that he was willing to disclose the witness’ medical condition to the court in chambers.
“In fact he informed me of what is wrong with him but I cannot disclose his ailment because of confidentiality and my lord that explains why he is not in court today.”
Chief State Attorney, Evelyn Keelson wondered why the illness was not stated on the excuse duty.
According to her, the turn of event was “suprising” because “the witness appeared to be in very good health just a couple of days ago. My Lord, I also asked my learned friend why the excuse duty does not indicate the illness the witness is suffering from and he told me it was as a result of confidentiality.”
Justice Clemence Honyenuga who appeared very unhappy ruled on the development.
His posture appears to doubt the credibility of the excuse duty from the state owned Rigde Hospital.
“By court I am equally surprised at the turn of event because the witness looked very energetic to fall sick within two days. It seems witnesses for the first accused usually fall sick during cross-examinations. I remember we had to adjourned this case for two weeks in the case of Dw1.
“I am equally surprised that on the excuse duty form, there is no illness stated on it because before the court there is nothing hidden in terms of sickness or otherwise.
“This is a criminal prosecution and it has gone on for a whole four years so it is very unfortunate that DW2 has to suffer the same fate as DW1.”
The judge therefore adjourned the case to Monday, 23rd May, 2022 for cross- examination to continue.
The witness, Samuel Torbi, is a chief cocoa farmer based in Assin Fosu who has been testifying about the efficacy of the Lithovit liquid fertilizer, a product he called “messiah”, which application helped him to over double his harvested cocoa beans.
The former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo as well as Agricult Ghana Limited, are facing over 25 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, willfully causing financial loss to the state, corruption by public officers and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 self-recognizance bail each.