Dr Stephen Opuni, former CEO of Cocobod

An Accra High Court has ordered the Counsel for Dr Stephen Opuni to produce the travel documents of the Seventh Defence Witness of Dr Opuni as proof of his travel outside the jurisdiction of the Court. 

The Court presided over by Justice Aboagye Tandoh said the Court could proceed without the witness. 

Earlier, Mr Samuel Codjoe, Counsel for Dr Opuni, told the Court that the defence witness was not in the jurisdiction.  

Dr Opuni and Mr Seidu Agongo, a Businessman are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the State, money laundering, and corruption by 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. 

“He informed us that he had to go outside the country for his son’s graduation and my Lord we have not made contact with him ever since,” he said.  

The Counsel said, “when the witness gave us this information, he stated that he would return in the first week in August 2023.”  

He said they were not aware that the Court would give a ruling on the adoption of proceedings, and this was because they believed, “we all have to agree on what proceedings was being adopted.”  

He said, it was on this basis that they did not inform the Court of the absence of their witness.  

Mr Benson Nutsukpui, Counsel for Mr Agongo, said they would have to cross-examine the witness if he was brought but as “I have stated we do not have the proceedings although we have applied for it.”  

“My Lord, the practice which we have come to meet is for the Court to have the adopting proceedings typed out, given to all parties and they can make reference in the case,” he added.  

He said in conducting cross-examination on behalf of Mr Agongo and his Company, they would have to get all proceedings, go through them, and refer to them when cross-examining the witness.  

Mr Nutsukpui said they believed that the Court had a constitutional duty to give them adequate time and facility for the preparation of their defence.  

Mrs Stella Ohene Appiah, Principal State Attorney, said they would want to place on record that the Court of Appeal in its decision dated July 3, 2023, never said that they should adopt the records that they used for the appeal.  

She said the proceeding in question was the proceedings “we have known and worked with for about six years now.” 

She said, before, the Court's differently constituted proceedings were given to all the parties in the case on almost daily basis.  

“The Court records proceedings as it goes on and some parties not having the record of proceedings is a non-starter and it will interest this Court to note that in almost all the applications the accused persons filed during this trial, they attached records of proceedings to the appellate court. So, we all have the proceedings, and my Lord has ruled rightly,” he added. 

Mrs Ohene Appiah said on the issue of the non-availability of the witness, “My Lord, I will concede that the call on the witness is rather on short notice. However, the Court cannot wait for a witness, who decides to attend his son’s graduation for over one month.”  

She told the Court that because the accused informed the Court previously that they had several witnesses (A2 and A3 have 40 witnesses) and A1 had eight witnesses plus himself, making nine to testify before the Court, it was the prayer of prosecution that the next intended witness be called to testify.  

The Court, therefore adopted the proceedings, calling on parties to prepare their witnesses in readiness for the trial.  

Justice Tandoh said in respect of the absence of the witness, there was no evidence before the court, asking whether the Court should wait on the unavailability of the witness when his counsel had not made any contact with him.  

He said Dr Opuni and other witnesses were available to proceed with the trial, adding that “It is therefore important for all the parties to prepare their witnesses for an effective and efficient trial.”  

The Case was adjourned for further cross-examination of the seventh defence. 

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.