Seidu Agongo, the businessman standing trial with a former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, has decided to appeal against the decision of the Accra High Court to reject the tendering of a document.
Consequently, his lawyers have filed a motion seeking to halt proceedings at the High Court pending the determination of the interlocutory appeal they plan to file at the Court of Appeal.
At yesterday’s hearing at the High Court, lead counsel for Agongo, Mr Benson Nutsukpui, told the court that the motion for stay of proceedings was filed on March 1, 2019.
In response, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mrs Yvonne Atakorah Obuobisa, told the court that the prosecution was yet to be served with the motion for stay of proceedings.
In view of that, the court, presided over by Mr Justice Clemence Honyenuga, ordered that the motion be served on the prosecution and fixed March 13, 2019 for the motion to be heard.
Why the document was rejected
During the court’s sitting on February 25, 2019, Mr Nutsukpui wanted to tender a document through the second prosecution witness, Dr Alfred Arthur, a scientist at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG).
The said document was a report by a committee set up by CRIG and the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of COCOBOD to investigate the disappearance of a document requested by Agongo’s lawyers.
But, in a ruling, Mr Justice Honyenuga held that it would be against the rules of court and also unfair for counsel to tender the document through Dr Arthur, who was not the author and also had no knowledge about it.
“It will be most unfair to tender a document through a witness who does not know anything about it. Consequently, I will allow the objection and decline to allow the document to be tendered through PW2 (Dr Arthur),” he held.
The ruling of the court followed an objection raised by the DPP.
Case against Opuni and Agongo
Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo, the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, are on trial for their alleged engagement in acts that resulted in financial loss of GH¢271.3m to the state in a series of fertiliser deals.
They have been charged with 27 counts, including wilfully causing financial loss to the state, contravention of the Public Procurement Act, defrauding by false pretence, money laundering and corruption of a public officer.
The two have pleaded not guilty to all the charges and are on self-recognisance bail of GH¢300,000 each.