Opuni trial: Supreme Court Judge Justice Clemence Honyenuga refuses to recuse himself


A Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Clemence Honyenuga, who is also presiding over the COCOBOD trial at the Accra High court, has dismissed the application by Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni to recuse himself.

The accused persons have alleged that Justice Honyenugah has prejudged the case before asking them to open their defence.

Ruling on the application for him to recuse himself, Justice Clemence Honyenugah said it is his opinion that the application was brought in bad faith and accordingly dismissed it. This was after Counsel for Dr Opuni, Samuel Codjoe while moving the motion said, the motion on notice was for the judge to recuse himself from further hearing of the matter on the grounds of breach of Article 19 2E and G of the 1992 constitution and also under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.

According to him, they are of the view that they will not be given adequate time for their defense and this is based on the fact that on the 7th of last month, the judge stated that his primary duty was in the Supreme Court and this case had unduly delayed and was interfering in his duties and therefore wanted to complete it early.

He argued that, when their application for submission of no case was dismissed and they asked for time to prepare their defence, they were given seven days. He said, this is against the practice direction which is contained in the 2017-2020 Volume 1 of the Supreme Court of Ghana Law Report.

Chief State Attorney for the prosecution, Evelyn Keelson opposed the application on grounds that the applicant has not disclosed any circumstance warranting the said application asking the judge to recuse himself. According to her, Article 19(1) of the Constitution mandates the court to conduct a criminal trial expeditiously.

This is actually the first principle of fair trial in the 1992 Constitution and there is nothing wrong when a trial judge states that a trial ought to be conducted expeditiously.  She submitted that the ruling on the submission of no case calling on the applicant to open his defense was given on the 7th of last month.

It was at the instance of the applicant that the court adjourned the case to the 17th of this month to enable him to open his defense and that cannot be described as inadequate time set up for defense.

She said throughout the trial, the court had ordered the prosecution on many occasions to serve the applicant with all manner of documents including documents that they, as prosecution, had not even seen and had to look for. It was their submission that the applicant has had adequate time and facilities to prepare his defense.

National Communications Officer of the NDC, Sammy Gyamfi addressed the media after court proceedings.

Justice Honyernugah has however fixed the 18th of this month for Dr. Opuni to open his defense.

By: Yvonne Asare Offei.

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