The Accra High Court adjudicating the case of former Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) CEO, Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni and businessman, Mr Seidu Agongo, on Monday October 7, 2019 forced to adjourn the matter for a month to allow the Court of Appeal make a determination on yet another stay of proceedings filed by the lawyer for Mr Seidu Agongo.
This is the second time this year that the accused have filed this kind of application at the Court of Appeal. They have also twice filed the same application at the High Court adjudicating the substantive matter, and the applications in each of those instances were rejected. The first one which was filed at the Court of Appeal was also rejected.
In each of the three earlier instances, this year alone, of the filing of a stay of proceedings, the Accra High Court was compelled to pause the substantive case of alleged defrauding by false pretences, money laundering and causing financial loss, which the two men have been charged with.
In his ruling, the last time, Justice Clemence Honyenuga, the Appeal Court Judge, sitting as an additional High Court Judge and presiding over the trial referenced a Supreme Court ruling which held that the granting of an application for a stay of proceedings is solely at the discretion of the judge of the case and must be exercised judicially; “not whimsically or capriciously”.
But he also observed that the lawyer for the accused could not even manage to provide a single good reason for which the application should be granted. He added that granting the application will only result in further unnecessary “delay and will stultify the case”.
In a related incident, it has emerged that the hard drives in the system units of the computers used by five High Courts located in the Law Court Complex building have been stolen. These hard drives contain typed up records of proceeding and recordings.
The judicial service went on its usual break from 1st August 2019 and returned on 5th October 2019. The theft is believed to have happened sometime within the break period.
The High Court adjudicating the case of Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni and Mr Seidu Agongo is among the five affected court. The National Security is said to be investigating the matter.
It is yet unclear, whether the documents on the stolen hard drives have been backed up elsewhere or how the incident will affect the case doing forward.
Today in court, Justice Clemence Honyenuga announced that his court was facing a “serious technical difficulty” for which reason the screens which display the proceeding in realtime, as well as, the court’s microphones could not be used, before he proceeded as routinely as always to acknowledge the presence of both parties in the case; noting down their names.
He was, however, compelled to adjourn the case to 13th November 2019, which is two days after the Court of Appeal is slated to make a determination on the pending stay of proceedings.