Ghana Trade - Official SME Product Portal and Web Gallery

Opuni’s Lawyer Accused Of Playing Delay Tactics

A chief state attorney, Evelyn Keelson has accused lawyer for embattled former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni of hiding behind disclosure of documents to delay the trial.

According to her, the prosecution led by the Attorney General, Gloria Afua Akuffo, has furnished the former COCOBOD boss and businessman, Seidu Agongo, with all relevant documents and does not understand why the lawyer keeps insisting on getting irrelevant documents.

The lawyer, Samuel Codjoe has on many occasions prayed the court to order the AG to supply them with all documents including those they intend to rely on for the trial and those that they will not tender in evidence.

This followed a Supreme Court ruling which held that accused persons in summary trial are entitled to prosecution documents including witness statements.

Last week, he told the court that he had sighted some documents at the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) which they believe are relevant to the defence.

He argued that the Office of the AG has in its possession certain documents which they intend to rely on but are unwilling to furnish them to his client to properly and adequately prepare his defence.

Subsequently, the court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenugah ordered the AG to liaise with the relevant authorities to get them for the accused persons for an expeditious trial.

Appearing before the court yesterday, Mr. Codjoe told the court that they still have not laid hands on the documents they requested for despite the court order.

He said a letter written to them by the AG indicates that the case investigator had returned those documents to COCOBOD.

He therefore prayed the court to order COCOBOD to hand over the documents to the AG so that the accused persons can access them.

Benson Nutsukpui who is representing Seidu Agongo prayed the court to direct the order to the investigator to get the documents for the accused persons.

Irrelevant Document

But a chief state attorney, Evelyn Keelson, told the court that they have done their utmost best to furnish Dr. Opuni and Mr. Agongo with all the relevant documents and what the lawyers are demanding are not relevant to the trial.

She averred that when they contacted EOCO, the response was that the investigative body had returned all documents to COCOBOD hence do not have those documents in their possession.

She stated that the accused persons are in court over the purchase and testing of Lithovit foliar fertilizer therefore for the lawyers to be demanding documents dating as far back as 2008 is irrelevant to the trial.

Mrs. Keelson told the court that what the lawyer is demanding goes beyond the Supreme Court ruling which held that the accused persons should be given relevant documents for the trials and as and when new documents come into the possession of the prosecution, the accused persons must get them.

She stated that it appears the defence lawyer is employing the tactics just to delay the trial. She added that they are ready to commence the trial and that they had their first witness in court.

New Order

The presiding judge, Justice Honyenugah having listened to both lawyers and the state attorney held that in order that the case does not stall somewhere along the line and on the interest of justice, it is clear from the letters from the AG and EOCO that those documents exist.

He therefore ordered the investigator to procure the documents from COCOBOD for the AG to file at the court’s registry by July 13, 2018 and the defence must pick up those documents after they have been filed.

Hearing continues on July 16, 2018