14 June 2018

Ghana: State Ordered to Furnish Opuni, Agongo With Documents

An Accra High Court has ordered the Attorney-General (A-G) and Ministry of Justice to furnish Dr. Stephen Opuni, former Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), and Seidu Agongo, Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, accused of GH¢217 million financial loss to the state, documents, prosecution intend to rely on.

Consequently, hearing of the case will commence on July 4.

The defendants, on April 11, filed a motion at the Criminal Division "1" of Accra High Court, and prayed for an order directed at the prosecution to disclose to them all documents, including witness statements.

The case was put on hold for more than one month, awaiting the outcome of a similar case at the Supreme Court (SC), in which the applicants wanted an interpretation of Article 19(2) (e) and (g) of the 1992 Constitution that bothers on fair trial and provision of adequate time and facilities to the accused.

In a unanimous decision, the SC, on June 7, ordered the state to furnish the accused with all documents it intends to rely on in both summary and indictment trials.

Ruling on the application matter yesterday, Justice, Clemence K. Honyenugah a Court of Appeal Judge, sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court Judge said the decision of the apex court was binding on all lower courts.

He said the disclosure must be considered on relevance, admissibility and national security.

The court further directed the A-G to disclose the documents to Dr. Opuni and Mr. Agongo within seven days, to ensure speedy, fair and expeditious trial.

In her response to the ruling, Mrs. Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, told the court that prosecution did not have all the documents defendants had requested for, and that it would provide them with documents in its possession.

Dr. Opuni and Mr. Agongo were each granted self recognisance bail of GH¢300,000 on March 27, having pleaded not guilty to all 27 charges leveled against them by the Attorney-General.

Dr Opuni's lawyer, Mr Samuel Cudjoe, filedthe motion for disclosure of documents on behalf of his client, and asked the court to order the prosecution to furnish Dr Opuni with documents which have came into its possession, including the witness statements of Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited, the second and third defendants.

The applicant further urged the court to direct the prosecution to furnish him with witness statements of persons obtained by prosecution who would be called at the trial and those of others who would not be called to give evidence as well as letters written by COCOBOD through the first accused to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) for permission to sole source contracts for all fertilisers.

Dr Opuni's other request included all letters written by PPA in connection with Lithovit Foliar Fertilisers during the tenure of the first accused with COCOBOD, all correspondence from the Cocoa Research Institute (CRIG) to the Chief Executive of COCOBOD concerning Lithovit Foliar Fertiliser, before, during and after the tenure of the first accused.

The former COCOBOD boss is also asking for the provision of all certificates issued by CRIG for all fertilizers including Lithovit from 2008 till March 2018 and renewals of such certificates.

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