Court grants six-week excuse duty to Dr Opuni 

Dr Stephen Opuni, former Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, has been granted a six-week excuse duty from court proceedings.

An Accra High Court had considered an excuse duty presented by his lawyers regarding an eye surgery performed on him at the Saint Lucy Eye Clinic.

The Medical Director, Dr Kodjo Abalo, issued a medical report on behalf of Dr Opuni, which said that he had four surgeries performed on his left eye and needed a six-week excuse duty to rest and heal properly but the court wanted a clarification, hence the Director was invited.

The Court presided over by Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, a Supreme Court Justice, sitting as a High Court Judge, ruling on the excuse duty, said having heard the Doctor on Dr Opuni records and cross-examination from the prosecution, it was his opinion that the Court granted Dr Opuni the needed rest to heal his eye.

Dr Opuni and two others are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, willfully causing financial loss to the State, money laundering, and corruption by public officer in contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GHS300,000.00 self-recognizance bail, each.

He said initially, he was mindful to conduct the trial virtually but with some additional explanations from the Doctor, he would not, hence case adjourned to November 7, 2022.

The Doctor, explaining the issues to the Court, said Dr Opuni was his patient, who came to the facility on May 21, 2022, on referral and not as a walk-in patient with a referral letter and a printout of the optical Coherence.

He said Dr Opuni had a retina problem which affected his left eye, coupled with cataract, which was confirmed by their diagnosis.

The Doctor said the only treatment for these diseases was through surgeries to operate on the eye, which was done to Dr Opuni.

Dr Abalo said the Dr Opuni said after the initial encounter with the patient somewhere in June 2022, he called to inform him that he had contracted Covid-19 and would avail himself for the operation when he was healed.

He said Dr Opuni came back on September 9, 2022, that he was now ready for the operation, where all the pre-operative was done, and he was booked for the operation on September 23, 2022.

“On that day, we did phacoemulsification cataract operation and vitrectomy with gas injection in the eye on him,” he added.

The Doctor said the operation lasted for two hours and from the day of the operation, Dr Opuni was given post-operative medication and a six-week excuse duty.

He said during the first 14 days of the six-week period, Dr Opuni had to bow his head, because of the gas injection component on the retina.

The witness said Dr Opuni was then advised to always wear dark glasses and avoid exposing the eye to bright lights.

He said a few days after, he developed a high intraocular pressure, but it was managed with some glaucoma medication.

At this stage, the Doctor presented some documents on the operation to the Court to support his explanation.

Mr Samuel Cudjoe, Counsel for Dr Opuni, told the Court that regarding cross-examination of the witness, the law did not create any room or opportunity for that to be done.

He said it was only the Court that had the mandate to cross examine the witness to satisfy itself, hence the parties did not have the right, quoting sections of Act 30 of the Constitution.

He said the evidence provided by the Doctor had no connection with the case in any way, but Mrs Keelson disagreed.

She said it referred to the tendering in evidence of all forms of scientific reports, even during a trial.

The Chief State Attorney said sub-sections 1 to 6 of the Act dealt with how the various reports could be put in evidence either during a trial or when the judge wanted to satisfy him or herself.

“l have never heard that the court will invite a witness to testify in court and parties will not be allowed to cross-examine the witness if they so wished,” she said.

She said it would not be in the interest of justice or according to the law for the court to prevent them from cross-examining the witness.

The court ruled in favour of the prosecution, saying the Doctor was invited by the court to explain the medical report, issued on behalf of Dr Opuni.

Mrs Keelson suggested to the witness that he was not one of the specialists, who performed the operation on Dr Opuni, and he agreed.

She put it to the witness that he did not perform the operation because it required a special skill, which he does not have but he disagreed.

The witness said he is the Medical Director of the facility, and it was under his watch that all operations were conducted.

The Doctor said they gave Dr Opuni six weeks for the eye to heal properly, because the retina was a delicate part of the eye, unlike other parts of the eye that heals within a few weeks.

“Six-week period is crucial in the healing process of the eye,” he said.

Source: GNA

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