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Ex-COCOBOD CEO Stephen Opuni has filed an application asking Justice Jones Dotse to recuse himself from the seven-member enhanced panel of the Supreme Court which is billed to rule on a review application filed by Attorney General Godfred Yeboah Dame in which the lawyer of the state is praying the apex court to overturn its own earlier ruling in which it prohibited Justice Clemence Honyenuga from continuing to hear the GHS271 million financial loss for which Dr Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo have been standing trial for the past four years.
In his affidavit dated 25 October 2021 in support of his recusal application a day before the court’s ruling on the review application, Dr Opuni said his attention has been drawn to a widely circulated internet publication by one Kelvin Taylor, a Ghanaian broadcaster in the United States of America in which he alleged that Mr Dame, on 15 October 2021, went to the office of Justice Jones Dotse, the presiding judge and had an extensive meeting with him.
Dr Opuni said the alleged meeting, according to Kevin Taylor, lasted for more than two hours.
“… I state that the said two-hour meeting which, according to the broadcast of the said Kevin Taylor, took place on the said Friday, the 15th day of October 2021, after the hearing of the oral arguments on Tuesday, the 12th day of October 2021, in respect of the review application, leaves me in serious doubts of the impartiality of his Lordship Justice Jones Dotse in the review application and convinces me that the Attorney General intends to use all means to ensure that I am convicted.”
“… I have been advised by counsel and, verily believe same to be true, that it is a truism and an established principle of law that justice should not only be done but manifestly and undoubted be seen to be done”, he argued in his affidavit.
Dr Opuni added: “Unfortunately, the continuation of Justice Jones Dote will destroy this sacred legal cliché. I pray that Justice Jones Dotse is recused as member of the review panel to enable meaning to be given to this legal cliché.”
Additionally, Dr Opuni alleged that during Mr Dame’s tenure as a Deputy Attorney General, he attended a town hall meeting organised by the Akufo-Addo government which was attended by supporters and sympathisers of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) on 6 April 2019 in London, England.
He said at the widely broadcast meeting on social media and OMEGA LIVE TV, a private television station, Mr Dame stated: “Even with regard to that, the prosecution has started, and I can allude to four cases of persons, close associates with [the] John Mahama administration”.
“The first is the Opuni trial. We all know Dr Opuni was one person who was used by the Mahama administration to perpetrate wrongdoings. Now, there is a prosecution of the former COCOBOD CEO, Dr Opuni. It is ongoing and it involves various huge sums of money as losses to the state”, Dr Opuni’s affidavit quoted the then-Deputy Attorney General as having said.
The above comments, Dr Opuni argued, prejudice the case.
“… I am, therefore, not in any doubt that my case has been unnecessarily elevated to an instance of corruption of the NDC, the success of which would have a bearing on the political fortunes of the present ruling party of which the Attorney General is an appointee.”
Dr Opuni averred further: “That I state that even though I was not at the said meeting, as stated by the said Kevin Taylor broadcast, the conduct of the learned Attorney General in giving a political twist to my case at the time he was Deputy Attorney General, together with the statement by other political bigwigs of the ruling party, leaves me in no doubt that it is in the interest of the government that I will be convicted for purely political reasons as in the words of the Attorney General”.
Two new judges: Justices Ashie Kotey and Gertrude Tokornoo, were added to the five-member ordinary panel by the Chief Justice for Tuesday’s ruling on the AG’s review application.
The ordinary panel that prohibited Justice Honyenuga consisted of Justices Jones Dotse, Gabriel Pwamang, Agnes Dodzie, Tanko Amadu and Avril Lovelace-Johnson.
Justices Gabriel Pwamang, Agnes Dodzie and Tanko Amadu were in favour of the removal of Justice Honyenuga while Justices Jones Dotse and Avril Lovelace-Johnson dissented in their 28 July ruling.
Mr Dame, who insists redoing the case with a new judge will be costly to the state, argued in his application that: “The decision of the ordinary bench of this Supreme Court dated 28 July 2021, contained fundamental and grave errors, which have manifestly resulted in a substantial miscarriage of justice, as it effectively ignored the time-honoured fundamental and mandatory preconditions for an invocation of the Supreme Court’s supervisory jurisdiction for an order of certiorari to quash an alleged error contained in a decision of a Superior Court”.
In his view, the ordinary bench’s ruling was “a decision which erroneously departs from recognised principles regarding the invocation of this honourable court’s supervisory jurisdiction is bad in law, manifests injustice and constitutes an exceptional circumstance [thus] warranting a review by the court”.
“It is our humble submission that a careful application of relevant principles regarding the invocation of both the supervisory and review jurisdictions of the Court will undoubtedly result in a setting aside of the decision complained of. To preserve same will be a bad and dangerous precedent for Ghana law.”