The Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin Yeboah has turned down a request by former Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr. Stephen Opuni, seeking to get Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Supreme Court judge sitting as an additional High Court judge of his trial.
According to Justice Anin Yeboah, after carefully perusing the petition he has noticed that the trial judge has not made any prejudicial statements to infer that there is a real likelihood of bias against the accused person.
Dr. Opuni, who is standing trial together with businessman, Seidu Agongo for allegedly causing over GH¢217 million financial loss to the state, was ordered by the trial judge on May 7, 2021, to open his defense after the prosecution had closed its case.
But he has since then filed multiple applications before the court, including submission of no case, a stay of proceedings, all of which were dismissed as well as a repeat application for stay of proceedings at the Court of Appeal which was also dismissed.
He earlier filed an application before an Accra High Court urging Justice Honyenuga to recuse himself from the trial on grounds of bias and not being given adequate time and facilities to defend himself.
The application was dismissed by the court, which held that it was brought in bad faith.
He then petitioned the Chief Justice to ask the trial judge to recuse himself from the trial.
The CJ in his response noted that having looked at the petition, Justice Honyenuga has not made any serious prejudicial statements to infer any likelihood of bias against Dr. Opuni.
“Your petition in respect of the above subject matter has been considered after serious thought. I have noticed from the petition that the learned judge has not made any prejudicial statements to infer that there is a real likelihood of bias against you as an accused person; in the case in which you are yet to open your defense.”
The Chief Justice, therefore, declined the request by Dr. Opuni for the case to be transferred to another judge since he did not establish any likelihood of bias toward him by the trial judge.
“In view of the fact that no serious allegation of likelihood of bias has been established, I will decline the invitation to transfer the case to another judge. This does not preclude you, in the exercise of your constitutional rights to resort to the juridical process for the transfer you are respectfully requesting for”, Chief Justice Anin Yeboah indicated.
Meanwhile, the court has adjourned the matter to July 15, 2021, to await the decision of the Supreme Court on an application filed by the lawyer for Dr. Opuni urging it to prohibit Justice Honyenuga from further hearing the case.