Court dismisses oral application to stay proceedings in Dr Opuni case

An Accra High Court hearing the case involving Dr Stephen Opuni and one other has dismissed an oral application by Counsel for Dr Opuni to stay proceedings pending the determination of two applications before the Supreme Court.

Mr Samuel Cudjoe, Counsel for Opuni, on Wednesday told the court that they had filed two applications, an application for special leave of the Supreme Court against the decision of the Appeals Court, and a motion for stay of proceedings at the Supreme Court.

The court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenugah, an Appeals Court Judge sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court Judge described the oral application as frivolous and incompetent.

He said the appeal was calculated to delay the hearing of the case since the third prosecution witness has been in the witness box for months now.

He said counsel’s reference to the rules was flawed and irrelevant and the application could not amount to an automatic stay of the proceedings.

“You are seeking leave for the application to be heard at the Supreme Court. That leave has not been granted then you go ahead to stay proceedings.”

He dismissed the application saying since the third prosecution witness was in the witness box, the proceedings would continue.

Mr Cudjoe earlier in an oral application told the court to hold on proceedings pending the determination of the two applications filed before the Supreme Court.

He said as far as they had an application for stay of proceedings pending before the Supreme Court and the stay of proceedings was in relation to these particular proceedings, the court has to wait for the decision of the highest court.

He argued that it was statutory as provided in CI 19, 27 rule 2 which says that “once you apply for stay of proceedings then that asks that the proceedings has to be stayed”.

“In the Supreme Court, the application we have is special leave to appeal the position of the Appeals Court. That application does not apply for stay. But once you file an application for stay of proceedings pending the determination of that special leave, then proceedings must be stayed for it to be determined before proceedings can continue.”

“This is the normal practice, so a lower courts which is not in hierarchy with the Supreme Court has to wait for the application of stay to be determined before it can continue. So far as the application is pending it is our submission that the court cannot go ahead.”

Mr Cudjoe added that the court would be in error if it went ahead with the hearing and by that interfere with the application pending, that the effect of this was to restrain the court from proceeding.

The Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs Yvonne Attakora Obuobisa, opposed the application.

She argued that they had not been served, saying even though they had not been served they were opposed to the application and ask that  the third prosecution witness who was in the box should continue with the testimony which is under cross examination.

She said the view of the counsel was completely erroneous as sections one and two of the CI 19 relates to appeals in the Appeals Court and not the Supreme Court.

“The rule is not applicable at all to this case. What he says he has filed is a motion to stay the proceedings. Because he does not have the right of appeal. Until the motion for special leave is determined and granted you cannot file a stay.”

The case was, however, adjourned to November 7 for continuation of cross-examination at the instance of Mr Cudjoe after he asked for an adjournment, saying based on the application they were handicapped and did not have all their files in court to continue today.

Dr Opuni and Mr Seidu Agogngo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 self-recognisance bail each.

Source: GNA

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