The Attorney General (A-G), Gloria Akuffo, is to retrieve some documents from the Economic Organised Office (EOCO) and other state agencies to enable former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr. Stephen Opuni, to put up his defence in a suit in which he is has been accused of causing financial loss to the state.
Appeals Court Judge, Justice Clemence Honyenuga, who is sitting as an additional High Court Judge, gave the order after the Director of Public Prosecutions, Yvonne Attakora Obuobisa, justified the failure of prosecutors to hand over some documents to defence attorneys.
The Director of Public Prosecution had said the A-G’s Department was not in the possession of the documents in question.
Justice Honyenuga had earlier ordered the A-G to make available to Dr. Opuni all documents in the possession of the state which they may or may not use in the course of the trial.
A chunk of those documents was submitted by the A-G’s Department save a few but Dr. Opuni’s Lawyer, Samuel Codjoe, pointed out the omissions.
Mr. Codjoe said documents such as the letters written by Dr. Opuni to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) to sole-source contracts for all fertilizers, certificates issued by Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) in relation to the fertilizer deal in contention, contract documents for supply of fertilizers since 2008, reports on use of fertilizer issued by CRIG, which presented at EOCO, have not been handed to his team.
The Director of Public Prosecution, Yvonne Obuobisa, responded that all letters written by Dr. Opuni to her office were not in the possession of the A-G's department.
She argued same for the other documents which Mr. Codjoe made reference to.
She stated that the documents the defence lawyer referred to were simply not in their possession.
EOCO, she explained, is carrying out a number of investigations that may not relate to the current case before the court.
According to her, the Prosecution has presented all the documents it has; documents which may or may not be used in the case.
After hearing Counsel, Justice Honyenuga ordered that the A-G to obtain those documents from the relevant organisations since it was clear they are crucial to the case of the defence.
The case has been adjourned to July 9, 2018.
Related: NDC rallies behind Opuni
Mr Opuni, one of the first government appointees to be sacked by Akufo-Addo administration, was hauled before the Accra High Court in March 2018 and charged with causing financial loss to the state.
Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni and one Seidu Agongo together are facing 27 charges.
In February 2017, the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) froze the assets of Dr Opuni as part of investigations into his tenure as CEO of COCOBOD.
The charges against the two come a week after President Nana Akufo-Addo told Ghanaians in his address at the 61st Independence Anniversary celebrations, to expect more prosecutions of persons deemed to have engaged in the misappropriation of public funds.
According to President Akufo-Addo, “with the office of the Special Prosecutor now in place, we can expect more prosecutions for corruption in the coming months, and public officials, present and past, should be on notice that they will be held accountable for their stewardship of our public finances.”
“Can you imagine what we can do with GH¢5.4 billion? It can certainly finance the Free SHS for five years,” he said while touching on the recent audit by the Auditor General into the liabilities of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies which led to the disallowance of some GH¢5.4 billion of claims.
Dr. Opuni, appointed on November 30, 2013, to head COCOCBOD, is alleged to have mismanaged the cocoa sector during four-year tenure.
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