High Court dismisses motion for stay of proceedings in Opuni trial

An Accra High Court hearing the trial of Dr Stephen Opuni, a former Chief Executive of COCOBOD and two others has dismissed a plea for a stay of proceedings. 

The motion was also against the suspension of proceedings pending the determination of an interlocutory appeal filed against the Court’s own decision on October 12, 2023. 

The court presided over Justice Aboagye Tandoh said there were no exceptional circumstances exhibited by the applicant to warrant the grant of stay of proceedings. 

It said the applicant’s arguments were based on an old common law viewpoint and his previous opinion on the matter before the court. 

Mr Samuel Cudjoe, the counsel for Dr Opuni, who moved the plea for stay of proceedings could not complete his argument in support of the motion, citing his reasons for participating in another matter in another court. 

Mr Benson Nutsukpui, counsel for Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited, stated that they had filed an affidavit in support of Dr Opuni’s plea, but that it was regrettable that Mr Cudjoe was unable to argue his points. 

He said they referred to the affidavit and said in the seventh paragraph that the procedure adopted by the court in adopting the proceedings was totally alien to the law. 

Mr Nutsukpui said the proper procedure and practice in adopting proceedings before the court was to ensure that proceedings were put together and adopted by the parties prior to the court’s adoption, but that this was not done in the instance at hand. 

“At this stage, we do not know what was adopted by the court,” he said, adding that “all these were exceptional grounds for grant of stay for Dr Opuni.” 

He contended that what the court appeared to have adopted did not suit the proceedings and that the documents put together by the State for the appeal had many mistakes. 

Mrs Evelyn Keelson, Chief State Attorney, objected to the motion, claiming that the State filed an affidavit in opposition on October 20, 2023, but that the parties and the court were not served. 

She stated that they had waived any reference to the affidavit in opposition and will only argue on points of law, implying that there was no legal basis for the parties to go through the proceedings before it was accepted. 

She said the applicant failed to demonstrate any exceptional circumstance warranting the grant of stay of proceedings.  

Earlier, Mr Cudjoe sought for another stay of proceedings, indicating that they had filed an application at the Supreme Court for an order for Certiorari to annul the court’s judgment dated July 25, 2023, in which the court adopted the proceedings. 

He also said they applied for a perpetual injunction to prohibit the trial judge from hearing the matter until the proceedings were properly adopted. 

Mr Cudjoe said it was their submission that the court should await the Supreme Court’s decision, since it had a direct effect on the motion for stay. 

The counsel said a hearing date would be fixed 25 days after service on the application of the respondent and interested parties. 

Meanwhile, Mr Benson Nutsukpui, counsel for Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited, has also joined Mr Cudjoe’s legal team in the matter. 

Mrs Keelson again contested the motion, claiming that the request for a stay of proceedings pending before the court had nothing to do with the applicant’s Supreme Court appeal for probation, certiorari, and injunction. 

She stated that there was no Supreme Court order directing the trial judge to stay the hearing on the request, and it was their contention that just filing an application with the Supreme Court did not result in an automatic stay. 

Mrs Keelson said there was no legal basis stopping the court from further hearing the matter. 

The Court presided over by Aboagye Tandoh yet again dismissed this motion, indicating that it would not hesitate to grant stay if an order from the Supreme Court was given. 

Dr Opuni and Mr Seidu Agongo, a Businessman are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully 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 GH¢300,000.00 self-recognizance bail, each. 

Source: GNA 

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