The High Court trying a former CEO of the COCOBOD, Stephen Kwabena Opuni, and businessman Seidu Agongo for causing financial loss of more than GH¢271 million to the state adjourned the case after it was told the lawyer for Agongo, Mr Nutifafa Nutsupkui, was in self-quarantine over exposure to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
At the hearing yesterday, the defence counsel was expected to continue with the cross-examination of the third prosecution witness in the case, Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, a former Deputy CEO of COCOBOD in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control, who is currently the Special Advisor on Cocoa to the Minister of Food and Agriculture.
However, Ms Jemimah Dey, who held brief for Mr Nutsupkui, told the court that Mr Nutsupkui could not make it because he was in self-quarantine.
She explained that Mr Nutsupkui had written to the court detailing the reasons he could not make it to court.
Excerpts of the letter, as read by Ms Dey, said: “In respect of the contact made by some members of the firm with clients, including myself, incidentally, I am unable to attend court and reiterate the point to the court because I happen to have been working from home for some time due to some other conditions.”
In his request, Mr Nutsupkui pleaded through the letter for an adjournment to a date in the first week of October.
The prosecution did not object to the application for adjournment by the defence counsel.
In his response, the presiding judge, Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Justice of the Supreme Court with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, said there was the need for the defence counsel to provide medical evidence to back his letter.
“I will give counsel the benefit of the doubt and request counsel to produce some medical evidence as to the allegations contained in the letter to the court,” he said.
Justice Honyenuga adjourned the case to July 30, this year.
In March 2018, the Attorney-General charged Dr Opuni and Agongo with 27 counts for allegedly engaging in illegalities that caused financial loss of GH¢271.3 million to the state and led to the distribution of sub-standard fertiliser to cocoa farmers.
Agongo is alleged to have used fraudulent means to sell sub-standard fertiliser to COCOBOD for onward distribution to cocoa farmers, while Dr Opuni is accused of facilitating the act by not allowing Agongo’s products to be tested and certified, as required by law.
The two accused persons have pleaded not guilty to all the 27 charges and are currently on bail in the sum of GH¢300,000 each.