It has emerged that, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, desperately dispatched officers to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) to snoop on businessman, Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited, the 2nd and 3rd accused in the ongoing Ghana Cocoa Board trial.
Alhaji Agongo’s lawyers told the High Court that the Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, had sent officers to the KBTH to ascertain whether their client had indeed, visited the facility or was lying about his health condition.
It is unclear, why Mr Dame is in a hurry to see the end of this case which he has on countless ocassions described as part of the Akufo-Addo government’s effort to tackle corruption.
Despite confirming that Alhaji Agongo was indeed at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, frustrated Mr Dame, lined up journalists at the Court Complex in Accra on Friday, February 3, 2024, to express his dissatisfaction over the six-year trial of former COCOBOD CEO, Stephen Opuni.
In the Attorney-General’s view, the failure of the court presided by Justice Honyenuga and judiciary to prosecute the former COCOBOD CEO, is unacceptable, adding long trials affect the fight against corruption.
Godfred Dame, said more complex cases are resolved speedily and is surprised that Opuni’s case has taken this long.
“We have witnessed the failure of the High Court to resolve the Opuni trial for the past six years. This is simply unacceptable. It is unacceptable for such a case to stay in court for six years when other more complex cases of murder are speedily resolved.
“This development deepens the injustice and inequity in our society and the judiciary clearly has to play its part and the judges also in the eradication of corruption.”
But the Supreme Court Judge, Justice Clemence Honyenuga, sitting on the trial of Dr Stephen Opuni and Alhaji Seidu Agongo, also hits back at him (Dame) calling his criticism that the trial had been delayed for six years, “noise”, insisting that cannot be true.
On Wednesday, February 8, 2023, Justice Honyenuga, who is sitting as an additional High Court Judge on the case, said in reaction to Mr Dame’s interviews that the Opuni and Alhaji Agongo trial started in May 2018 and that cannot be six years per his calculation.
“Serious hearing started in 2018, so it cannot be six years. It is a fact that although the warrant for me to hear this case is dated March 16, 2018, actual hearing of this case started in May 2018. Wherein lies the six years being talked about?”
The trial judge further added that “it is a fact that I have limited time to hear this matter and with a heavy heart that I have to adjourn this case today (Wednesday).”
Counsel for the Second and third accused Nutifafa Nutsukpi, told the court that the second accused was not in court, because he did attend his hospital review on Tuesday as it had been scheduled.
“We are sure that the prosecution will reconfirm that as we understand, the prosecutor in this case being the Attorney General spoke with or sent officers to verify at the hospital that indeed the 2nd Accused was receiving treatment or being seen at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.”
Counsel said as a result of that intervention, the 2nd Accused was kept from the morning to around 4 or 5 pm.
“My lord, it is our understanding that after he returned home, he was still unwell and at night, being Tuesday, he was sent to the 37 Military Hospital where he is currently on admission,” counsel said.
“As we speak, we understand tests including MRI Scans are being run on him and I’m not in a position to say what he is presented with at the hospital last night or what investigations are being carried out on him presently,” counsel explained why the second accused couldn’t make it to the court.
Principal State Attorney, Stella Ohene Appiah, in her response said she was unable to confirm what defence counsel had told the court.
“Respectfully my lord, I’m unable to confirm what counsel has just told the court at the Attorney General sending people to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital to confirm the attendance of the 2nd Accused to that facility,” she noted.
About his visit to the 37 military hospital, the Principal State Attorney said “we are all hearing this for the first time now and since we do not have any documentary proof of it, I will leave it to the sea region of the court to decide the way forward.”
“I must say that I sent a word to my senior in this case on what counsel said the visit to Korle bu and she is also checking to find out whether that is the position and so we cannot say for sure that what counsel is saying to the court is the case until we have verified from the office.”
The court while seeking clarity on the matter asked counsel who gave him the information that the Attorney General spoke with or sent officers to verify whether the second accused attended the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital or not.
Counsel in his response said his information was from the doctors attending to him.
Asked again by the court if it was the case that because of the alleged information from the doctors that the second accused left the facility between 4 or 5 pm.
Counsel said “that seems to me to be his understanding because none of his previous sessions had ever taken that long.
Counsel also told the court that the information of the second accused being admitted at the 37 Military Hospital “came from Benson Nutsukpui, counsel on record for the second and third accused.”
“In the circumstances, it is our prayer that considering the absence of the second accused due to illness the honorable court May adjourned the case either to tomorrow or Monday subject to the discretion of the court by which date we would have been in a position to furnish the court with the necessary documentations to confirm what we have just told the court is not a tale,” counsel prayed.
He also said “the prosecutors may in their own way verify” the information they had relaid to the court.
“I will order the Principal State Attorney to find out from the Attorney General whether or not he sent any person or persons to verify whether the second accused had attended the Korle-Bu teaching hospital yesterday, February 7, and report to this court on the next adjourned date,” the court ordered.
The court also ordered “the registrar of this court to go to the 37 Military Hospital to find out whether indeed the second accused is on admission at the said hospital.
The court said, “the registrar shall report his findings to this court by the next adjourned date.”
The judge “further ordered that the second accused shall produce to this court medical report of his admission at the 37 Military Hospital at the next adjourned date.
Justice Honyenuga said, “in order not to come back to this court for another adjournment, I will adjourn this case to Monday, February 13 to enable the second accused to be present for proceedings to continue.”
Hearing continues today Monday February 13.