Lawyers of Businessman Seidu Agongo, the Chief Executive Officer of Agricult Ghana Limited, has asked for his pending application for retired Justice Clemence Honyenuga to recuse himself included in a docket to be transferred to the Chief Justice (CJ) for reassignment.

The retired Justice of the Supreme Court who was sitting on the case in which Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni former Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board and two others as an additional High Court judge had been a subject matter of several recusal applications including a pending one from the businessman.

Before the application could be moved, the Attorney General (AG) Office through the Deputy AG Alfred Tuah Yeboah had asked for the brief to be transferred.

The request from the Attorney General’s office to refer the matter to the CJ was premised on the grounds that Justice Honyenuga had “extremely limited” time to conclude the case following his extended mandate by CJ upon retirement on September 4, 2022.

However, prior to ordering the Registrar of the High Court to transfer the case docket to the CJ for it to be reassigned, lawyers of the accused persons urged the judge to include in the records the pending motion for his recusal to be included in the documents to be sent to CJ.

Counsel for the 2nd and 3rd Accused (Seidu Agongo and Agricult), Nutifafa Nutsukpui, holding Benson Nutsukpui’s brief submitted that, the said motion should be part of the records eventhough the judge in question had his mandate virtually expired.

“It’s our submission that the said motion (recusal), being a process on the case docket remains on the docket for the Chief Justice to re-assign a new person to consider,” Counsel submitted.

He added “It’s our view respectfully that at the point of the decision where the court would’ve made the order to return the brief to the Chief Justice, the motion had already been filed and forms part of the docket for all processes.”

To this, he said “it’s our prayer that the docket as it is be returned in its entirety to the Chief Justice for re-assigning.”

*Prosecution’s position*

Stella Ohene Appiah, a Principal State Attorney, initially said since the docket was going to be re-assigned, the pending application for recusal would no longer be necessary.

She however, sided with the defense saying “if counsel wants the application to go for a new judge, as part of the records of proceedings; I also think that it should be on the docket as proof of how many times the accused persons have tried to unseat the previous trial judge.

She said, it inclusion “will set the records along the line so it should be known,”

Counsel for Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni led by Samuel Codjoe, added: “My lord in my opinion, once it’s part of the record,” it should be part.

*By Court*

Retired Justice Honyenuga said “It is crystal clear that it is impossible for me to conclude and determine this case, in the circumstance, I will uphold the submission of the Attorney General under Section 105 of the Court Act, 1993, Act 459.

“Now, this is my ruling on the submissions by the Deputy Attorney General. I must state that it is refreshing that Attorney General who initiated the Criminal proceedings against the accused persons has submitted through the Deputy Attorney General that this case be referred to the Chief Justice due to the limited time at my disposal,” he stated.

“Indeed, due to the limited time accorded me by the Chief Justice to continue to hear this case, it is crystally clear that it is impossible for me to conclude and determine this case with DW7 in the box.

“In the circumstances I will uphold the submission of the Deputy Attorney General and hereby grant the application under Section 105 of the Court’s Act 1993 Act 459 as amended.

“It is hereby ordered that the pendency of this case be reported to the Chief Justice for his directions. Accordingly, the Registrar of this court is to carry out this order forthwith. In the circumstances I will adjourn this case to the 15th of March, 2023,” Justice Honyenuga ordered.0

Dr Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo have pleaded not guilty to some 27 charges and are standing trial for an alleged willfully causing financial loss to the State following the purchase of Lithovit Liquid fertilizer to cocoa farmers.

Source: Inusah