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General News of Sunday, 9 February 2020

Source: The Herald

Opuni takes perjury case to Appeals Court

Counsel for former chief executive of COCOBOD, has asked the Appeals Court, to set aside a High Court ruling that adjourned, indefinitely, a perjury case brought against a witness of the state.

Dr. Stephen Opuni’s lawyer, Samuel Codjo, also wants the Court of Appeal to get a different judge to hear the perjury case against Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah.

The respondent who has been accused of “deliberately lying” to the court in his testimony is the third prosecution witness in the trial of Dr. Opuni and Seidu Agongo the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Agricult Ghana Limited.

Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah, who is a former Deputy Chief Executive at COCOBOD in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control is to justify, why he should not be imprisoned for committing perjury, a quasi-criminal offence.

Throughout his evidence-in-chief and whilst under cross examination, the witnessed consistently told the court that it was the practice at COCOBOD that procurements of fertilizers are done through advertisements in the dailies.

It, however, turned out in court that COCOBOD, has never procured fertilizers through advertisement, but rather by sole-sourcing them.

Counsel for Dr. Opuni, Samuel Cudjoe has also been able to produce not less than 18 contracts signed by the witness, Dr. Adu-Ampomah in his capacity as the then deputy chief executive at COCOBOD through sole-source. Some of these sole source contracts were as recent as July 6, 2017, March 27, 2018, and April 19, 2018.

But when Justice Clemence Honyenugah, an Appeal Court Judge, sitting as an additional High Court Judge, sat on the case for the second time, he said he would want to defer hearing of the perjury sine die for the sake of fair play and justice.

“To avoid prejudice and ensure fair play and justice, it is desirable that this motion should be adjourned to wait the full trial of this case, consequently…the motion is adjourned sine die,” he ruled on Tuesday, January 28.

But the appellant felt the judge “erred” in that ruling, hence his decision to take the matter up, to the appellate court.

“The learned judge erred by not hearing the Perjury application, an action which is separate and distinct from the pending criminal case in which Respondent is not a party, but a witness for the Republic.”

“The learned judge erred when he suo mote, adjourned the application sine die on the grounds of avoiding ‘prejudice and ensure fair play and justice’.”

He is, therefore, praying the Court of Appeal to grant him the relief that:

“The ruling of the High Court (Criminal Division 1) dated the 28th day of January 2020 in which the learned judge adjourned the suit sine die be set aside and the perjury application be assigned to a new judge to hear same.”

Dr. Opuni in his affidavit in support of the motion currently adjourned sine die drew the attention of the court to the fact that Dr. Adu-Ampomah satisfied all the tree requirements for one to be convicted for perjury: under oath, made or verified a statement upon the oath, and made or verified the statement knowing it to be false in a material particular or had reason to believe it to be true.

“That I have been advised by Counsel and verily believe same to be true that this Court under section 152 (1) (b) of the Criminal procedure Act, 1960 (Act 30) as amended by section 14 of Act 633 and under its inherent jurisdiction has the power to order Respondent to show cause why he should not be committed to Prison for perjury by virtue of the deliberate lies in his evidence in Chief given on the 14th day of May, 2019 together with the answers given under cross examination particulars of which are contained in paragraphs 5, 6, 9 and 10 supra.

“That in the circumstances, I pray that this court grants an order directed at Respondent to show cause why he should not be committed to prison for perjury and more specifically for concocting evidence so as to mislead the Court.”

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