Ghana News

COCOBOD trial: Opuni absent from court on medical grounds

Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, the former Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD standing trial together with two others for causing financial loss to the state was absent from court on medical grounds today.

Dr Opuni, who on May 7 had his submission of no case dismissed and was ordered to mount the docket and open his defence today, Monday, May 17.

But, the issue of his medical report was brought before the Criminal Division of the Accra High Court presided over by Justice Clemence Jackson Honyernugah, a justice of the Supreme Court to explain his unavailability to mount the box.

Dr. Opuni, Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited are facing 27 charges of causing financial loss to the state, defrauding by false pretences, conspiracy to commit crime, abetment of crime, money lingering, corruption by public officer and contravention of the PPA Act.

Together, they are accused of causing a financial loss of over GH¢217 million to the state through the sale and purchase of the controversial Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser, which according to the prosecution, was never tested.

They are facing 27 counts including causing financial loss of over GH¢217 million to the state through the supply and purchase of Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser for COCOBOD.

When the case was called, his lawyer Samuel Codjoe told the court that, “my client, (Dr Opuni) is not in court today because of a medical issue.”

According to him, “We have a letter from the University of Ghana Medical Centre evidencing the fact that he has been billed to see the medical specialist” and that explains his absence from court.

Counsel said he has conducted two tests and hopes that the outcome would be known within a day or two.

The Prosecution led by Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mrs Yvonne Atakorah Obuobisah told the court that, she has just been given a copy of the said medical report by counsel of the accused to explain why his client was not in court.

“Having looked at it, it appears to be rather vague in that it doesn’t give any specific time. The letter is not addressed to the registrar of the court and does not give any specific time to guide the sitting of the Court.”

She said, for the purpose of court, it should be addressed to the registrar but it has not given a specific time period to guide the courts sitting.

Lawyer for Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited, Nutifafa Nutsukpi holding brief for Benson Nutsukpi told the court that, to the extent that, it has to do with medical issue, Dr Opuni should be indulged.

Motions

The DPP also drew the court’s attention to the fact that the accused persons have filed a notice of appeal against the dismissal of their submission of no case which was dismissed and a motion for stay of proceedings pending appeal.

She said the return date has been fixed for May 27.

By court

The trial judge said, “having been served with a copy of the medical report of Dr Opuni, he is excused from attending court today.

The court said, “Counsel for DR Opuni, A2 and A3 have indicated that they have filed notices of appeal and also motion for stay of proceedings fixed for May 27.

The court said, both the DPP and counsel for the accused persons have consented to abridge the time for the hearing of the said motions to May 26, 2021@10:360am.

The case has consequently been adjourned to May 26 for hearing.

 

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