Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni
Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni

The former Chief Execu­tive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana COCOBOD, Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, wants Justice Aboagye Tandoh removed from the Lithovit fertiliser case over prejudice and open bias.

Dr Opuni, who is standing trial together with Seidu Agongo, the Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, a fertiliser manu­facturing company, said he would not get justice if the judge contin­ues the trial of the accused.

Counsel for the former CEO of COCOBOD, Mr Samuel Codjoe, has filed a motion before the trial High Court, asking Justice Tandoh to recuse himself.

Justice Tandoh took over the case in July 2023, after Justice Gy­imah Boadi, who was the second judge to handle the criminal case, was transferred to Kumasi.

The first trial was conducted by Justice Clement Jackson Honyenu­gah for almost six years before he went on retirement in 2022.

On July 25, Justice Tandoh told parties in the case that he had adopted proceedings in the previous trial.

However, the Counsel for the accused, MessrsCodjoe and Benson Nutsukpui, challenged the decision of Justice Tandoh.

They argued that the decision was not grounded in law and alien to procedure and practice.

In the motion for recusal, Dr Opuni has stated that the trial could only lead to his (Dr Opuni) conviction.

“I state that the conduct of the trial judge, particulars of which are contained hereinabove, leads to only one conclusion; which is that: I will not be given a fair trial, as he has been very unfair to me by way of not only seeking to intimidate and embarrass my counsel, but further that he intends to rush through the trial and thereafter convict me,” he said.

In March, 2018, the Attor­ney-General charged DrOpuni and Agongo with 27 counts for allegedly engaging in illegalities that caused financial loss of GH¢271.3 million to the state, and led to the distri­bution of sub-standard fertiliser to cocoa farmers.

Agongo is alleged to have used fraudulent means to sell sub-stan­dard fertiliser to COCOBOD for onward distribution to cocoa farm­ers, while DrOpuni is accused of facilitating the act by not allowing Agongo’s products to be tested and certified, as required by law.

The two accused persons have pleaded not guilty to all the 27 charges and are on GH¢300,000 bail each.

By Anita Nyarko-Yirenkyi