Opuni accuses witness of perjury

A prosecution witness in the trial of a former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, has been accused of perjury by lawyers for Dr Opuni, who is on trial for allegedly causing financial loss of more than GH¢271 million to the state.

However, according to the defence lawyers, competitive tender in relation to the procurement of fertiliser was unknown to COCOBOD; rather, sole-sourcing was the normal practice and, therefore, Dr Adu-Ampomah had not been truthful on oath before the court.

Dr Adu-Ampomah — currently a Special Advisor on Cocoa to the Minister of Food and Agriculture — is the third prosecution witness in the case.


Lawyers for Dr Opuni were expected to move an application for perjury against the witness at the Accra High Court yesterday, but it was adjourned because the respondent (witness) did not have a lawyer to defend him against the perjury charge.

It turned out that the Attorney-General (A-G) had filed an affidavit opposing the application, a move which was rejected by the court following an objection raised by the defence lawyers.

Lead counsel for Dr Opuni, Mr Samuel Cudjoe, had argued that perjury was a quasi-criminal offence and, therefore, the A-G could not defend the witness.

According to him, per Article 88 Clause 3 of the Constitution, the A-G was responsible for the prosecution of all criminal offences, and so by defending the witness, the A-G would not be protecting the interest of the state but rather that of someone accused of committing a criminal offence.

“In perjury, even if the respondent is a prosecution witness, he is required to engage the services of his own solicitor to defend him because the state cannot defend him. The A-G’s act of filing an affidavit in opposition is a breach of Article 88 Clause 3 of the 1992 Constitution,” counsel argued.

“Interested party”

In her response, the prosecutor, Ms Stella Ohene Appiah, a Principal State Attorney, disagreed with Mr Cudjoe and argued that the A-G had filed the affidavit as an interested party and not as a lawyer for the respondent (witness).

“When I introduced myself, I said I was representing the interested party and not the respondent. This affidavit is for the interested party and not the respondent,” she argued.

She further argued that the respondent could file his response in his personal capacity or align himself with what the A-G had filed.

Ms Appiah said if it was the wish of the court for the respondent to have his own lawyer, the A-G would advise him accordingly.

That argument was rebutted by Mr Cudjoe, who said such a move by the A-G would also be unconstitutional because the A-G was only required to act in the interest of the state and, therefore, she could not advise an accused person.

“They can only advise the State and not someone who has potentially committed a criminal offence,” he said.

It was also the contention of counsel that the A-G could also not act as an interested party in the application, adding: “They have nothing to do with this application.”

Own lawyer

In his ruling, the presiding judge, Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Justice of the Court of Appeal, with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, sided with defence counsel.

Justice Honyenuga held that perjury was a quasi-criminal offence and, therefore, any affidavit in opposition from the A-G would be a violation of Article 88 (3) of the 1992 Constitution.

“Consequently, the affidavit in opposition is struck out,” he held.

He, therefore, gave Dr Adu-Ampomah 14 days to engage the services of his own lawyer to defend him.

Lawyers for Dr Opuni will move the application for perjury on January 23, 2020.

Main case

In March 2018, the A-G charged Dr Opuni and the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, Mr Seidu 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 allowing Agongo’s products not 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.

Daily Graphic