Opuni trial: Judge adjourns case ‘with heavy heart’

Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, the Judge trying Dr. Stephen Opuni, a former Chief Executive of COCOBOD and two others, says he has little time left to hear the case to its logical conclusion.

“It is with a heavy heart that I have to adjourn the matter,” he said, adding that it was very unfortunate that the case had to be “adjourned again at this time,” where a lot of noise had been made about the delay in the trial.

Justice Honyenuga made these comments after Mr. Nutifafa Nutsukpui, the Counsel for Seidu Agongo, told the Court that his client was unwell and had to be admitted at the 37 Military Hospital after undergoing a review the previous day at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra.

Dr. Opuni and Mr Agongo, a businessman, are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the State, money laundering, and corruption by a public officer in contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 self-recognizance bail, each.

Mr Nutsukpui told the Court that while his client was at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, they understood that either the Attorney General sent some officers to verify if indeed Mr Agongo was receiving treatment or had been to the Hospital.

He said as a result of that intervention, Mr Agongo was at the Hospital till between 4pm to 5pm and when he got home, still unwell, he was sent to the 37 Military Hospital, where he was admitted.

“As we speak, we understand that doctors are conducting a series of tests, including MRI scans,” he said.

Mrs. Stella Ohene-Appiah, Principal State Attorney, said the prosecution was unable to confirm what the counsel for Agongo had communicated to the court about the intervention of the Attorney-General.

About the admission of the accused person, Mrs. Ohene-Appiah said this was the first time the prosecution was hearing this information since they do not have any documentation to show or prove it, but “we will leave it to the discretion of the court.”

At this stage, the court intervened, asking the counsel where he got the information about the Attorney-General’s intervention and Mr. Nutsukpui said the information was relayed by the doctors, who treated Mr Agongo at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.

He said the defence got the information from Mr Benson Nutsukpui, the initial counsel for Agongo, and it was their prayer that considering the absence of the accused person due to his ill health, the court should adjourn the matter.

The Counsel said by that time, the accused person would have been in the right position to provide the court with further and necessary documents to the court.

Justice Honyenuga therefore ordered the Principal State Attorney to find out from the Attorney-General, whether he had sent any person(s) to verify from Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, whether the accused person had attended a review on February 7, 2023, and report to the Court at the adjourned date.

Meanwhile, the Court had also ordered the Registrar to visit 37 Military Hospital to find out whether indeed the accused person was on admission at the facility.

The Registrar will report his finding to the Court on the next adjourned date.

The Judge said the trial commenced seriously in May 2018, even though the warrant for the trial was given on March 16, 2018.

He said in that circumstance and not to come back for another adjournment, “I will adjourn to Monday, February 13, 2023, to enable the accused person to be present for proceedings to continue.”

It is further ordered that the accused person shall produce before the Court, a medical report on his admission at the 37 Military Hospital on the next adjourned date.