The majority of the empanelled judges of the Supreme Court have struck off Justice Clemence Honyenuga from continuing as the trial judge for the controversial legal suit against Dr. Stephen Opuni, the former Cocoa Board boss accused of siphoning millions of dollars with two other alleged conspirators.
Already, Justice Honeyenuga, who is also a chief in a town in the Volta Region, has been fingered for being biased and a partisan loyalist of the Akufo Addo administration.
Even though it was against his dual positions as a chief and a judge, run-up to the 2020 presidential elections, he mounted a public forum to endorse President Akufo Addo’s second term bid.
He was forced to apologise for his faux pas during his Parliamentary vetting for his nomination to the Supreme Court Bench by President Akufo Addo.
It is this orientation that lawyers of Dr. Opuni insist had manifested in the entire trial of the COCOBOD scandal. The lawyers say Justice Honyenuga had made comments in open court, and in his rulings that leave them in no doubt that their client will not get a fair hearing, particularly as an appointee of the erstwhile administration of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The lawyers had therefore filed their objection at the Supreme Court, asking Justice Honyenuga to recuse himself from adjudicating the trial because of his perceived biases.
The five-member panel of the apex Court in a three-two majority ruling, therefore, agreed to the call for the embattled judge’s recusal and prohibited from continuing with the case involving the former COCOBOD CEO.
The panel of five presided over by Justice Jones Victor Dotse, also granted the request, for portions of the ruling on a submission of no case adjudicated by Justice Honyenuga, to be quashed.
Earlier, the lawyers of Dr. Opuni have been unsuccessful in getting Honyenuga to recuse himself. The last attempt was on June 9, 2021, their second attempt that failed.
The first of such applications was filed in March 2020 because the trial judge had openly campaigned for President Akufo-Addo.
The court dismissed the application after the judge had maintained that Dr. Opuni was unduly politicising the trial.
A relentless Dr. Opuni will subsequently head for the Supreme Court to plead for the removal of Justice Honyenuga from his case.
But a five-member panel presided over by Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah and assisted by Justices Jones Dotse, Sule Gbadegbe, Nene Amegatcher and Gertrude Torkornoo, dismissed the application for lacking merit and not supported by any fact.
Lawyers for Dr. Opuni renewed their attempt which had recently yielded their desired result with the latest Supreme Court pronouncement.
Meanwhile, Dr. Opuni and two others will continue with the substantive case of fraud and corruption against them.
They had pleaded not guilty to charges, including causing financial loss to the state, in a matter concerning an alleged fraudulent fertilizer contract worth over GH¢43 million.
Dr. Opuni is accused of causing a $217 million financial loss to the state and has been standing trial since 2017.