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Supreme Court stops Justice Honyenuga from hearing Opuni case

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The Supreme Court has removed Justice Clemence Honyenuga from the Opuni case as a trial judge.

By this decision, the Chief Justice would have to assign a new judge to the 4-year-old case for the legal process to continue.

The Court has differed its reasons for the ruling to Friday, July 30, 2021.

Clemence Honyenuga, a justice of the Supreme Court, was sitting as an additional High Court Judge in the matter of the Republic against the former COCOBOD CEO, Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni.

Lawyers for Mr. Opuni had earlier argued that they wanted Justice Honyenuga to recuse himself from the case because he prejudged and determined the guilt of Dr. Opuni even before the accused person mounted the box.

Opuni’s lawyers had argued that Justice Honyenuga had voiced his eagerness to dispense off the case, so he could go back to his core duties at the Supreme Court. This according to the lawyers, had been manifested in all the judge’s rulings against Mr. Opuni in the ongoing case.

But Justice Honyenuga dismissed their motion, saying, “It is my candid opinion that the application was brought in bad faith. Accordingly, the motion is hereby dismissed”.

That was the third failed attempt by Opuni’s lawyers to get the judge to recuse himself.

Unsatisfied with the ruling, the lawyers for Mr. Opuni petitioned Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah and took the matter to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s latest ruling was a 3-2 majority decision presided over by Justice Jones Dotse.

The Presiding Judge, together with Justice Avril Lovelace-Johnson, dissented, while Justices Gabriel Pwamang, Agnes Dordzie, and Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu held for Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni.

Background

The former COCOBOD CEO and Agricult Ghana Limited CEO, Seidu Agongo, are standing trial together with Agricult Ghana Limited for allegedly causing the state to lose over GHS 217 million in a cocoa fertilizer transaction.

Dr. Opuni and Mr. Agongo are facing 27 charges including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officers, and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges, and are on a ¢300,000 self-recognizance bail, each.

Agongo is alleged to have used fraudulent means to sell substandard fertiliser to the 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.

Journalist and science writer for NewsAfrica24, the Atlantic, New Scientist, Aeon, Men’s Health, and many others. Author of The Intelligence Mafias, published by Stoughton (UK)/WW Norton (USA) and translated into six languages.

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Anti-Gay bill: We hope Parliament will deal with it in a satisfactory way – Akufo-Addo

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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has expressed hope that the law making body will deal with the anti-gay bill that is currently before the House in a satisfactory manner.

Mr Akufo-Addo said this after chiefs in the Greater Accra region had pleaded with him to intervene and ensure that the practice of homosexuality is prohibited in the country.

The chiefs vowed that the practice would not be tolerated on Ga lands.

The Vice President of the Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs, Nii Odaifio Welentse III said in a meeting with President Akufo-Addo on Friday October 22 that “The traditional authorities in the Greater Accra region want to use this opportunity to voice out our displeasure on the issue of accepting people indulging in same sex marriage.

“As fathers of the land, we have monitored the social and public discourse and we want to add our voice that this practice will not be entertained or tolerate among our people.

“Mr President, all eyes and ears are looking to you for you to do the needful to help save humanity.”

Responding to his comments, President Akufo-Addo said “I have taken your comment on board on the issue of LGBTQI Parliament is dealing with the mater and we hope that it will deal with it in a satisfactory way.”

The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill was laid in the House on Monday, August 2 and read for the first time.

Reading for the first time, a clerk in the legislative assembly stated that the Bill proscribes lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) and other related activities and propaganda or advocacy and promotion for same.

It also came to light that it supports protection for children and persons who are victims or accused of homosexuality.

Second Deputy Speaker Andrew Asiamah Amoako referred the Bill to the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Committee for consideration.

“For the first time, it is referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report,” Mr Asiamah Amoako, who is also the MP for Fomena, directed.

The controversial bill has already divided opinion in the Ghanaian public discourse.

While some, particularly the religious and traditional groupings, have supported the Bill and hopeful of its passing, others say it could incur the wrath of the international community against Ghana.

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Support Police with quality weapons, not toy guns – Gov’t told

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Member of Parliament for Buem, Mr Kofi Adams, has asked the government to procure quality and durable weapons to the security agencies to enable them combat crimes effectively.

Mr Adams said Parliament will do its part in approving government’s budget for the security sector, but, the central authority, he said, should endeavor to provide quality materials to assist in crime fight.

Speaking in an interview with TV3, Mr Adams who is a member of the Defence and Interior Committee said security must be valued at all times, not only when there is trouble.

“We on the Defence and Interior committee will do everything to support all our security agencies to be able to function and function effectively. As I keep saying we should not wait to see the value of security in insecurity.

 “Mostly, people don’t see the value of security until insecurity occurs. Sometimes, we don’t see why we should even invest in security in our homes, why we should invest in simple dogs until something goes wrong then we now. We think that investment in security is a waste, it is never a waste.

“Let us preempt some of the things, let us invest in security. Government must be serious about investment in security. When parliament gives the mandate for that investment let us not go and bring toy equipment to them.

“Let us buy what is durable, let us buy what can properly be used to protect and defend the people.”

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Release GETFund monies to enable them pay contractors – Ofori-Atta told

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Member of Parliament for Buem, Mr Kofi Adams, has asked the Finance Minister Mr Ken Ofori-Atta to release funds to the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) to enable them pay contractors.

According to him, the inability of GETFund to pay the contractors has resulted in abandoned projects all over the country.

Mr Adams explained that it came out from a meeting officials of the GETFund had with Parliament that the Ministry of Finance had failed to release their funds.

He noted that despite government using GETFUnd as collateral for loans, works continue to stall on educational projects.

He told TV3 in an interview that “Unfortunately, contractors who we thought would be paid out of this seven billion [facility] that was raised through this means are still complaining of not being paid and looking at from last time till now.

“If we will continue to have a situation where these very contractors are not returning to site because they feel that they are owed for works already done and certificates so presented.

“It is unfortunate because the thinking was that with that huge resources available now, we will be able to complete all these projects. But that it is not happening and the funds now have to be paying every other time for these very facility that has already been taken  but we are not seeing the effect of this  facility  in the completion of projects. That is why I am particularly worried.

 “The last time GETFund came to parliament it looks more like it was the Ministry of Finance that is not releasing the moneys to them,” he said.

Last week, the Minority in parliament served notice that they would initiate a probe into a $1.5 billion security that was approved for the GETFund to undertake completion of critical educational facilities.

Parliament in 2018 approved the $1.5 billion loan for the GETFund to support the development of educational infrastructure.

This was amidst objections raised by the Minority.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) lawmakers insisted that they could not back the loan agreement because they were unaware of the lender of the facility.

Dr. Anthony Osei Akoto, the then Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation, said the minority members had been informed about the lender.

He went ahead to announce to the House who the lender was – CAL Bank.

“Mr Speaker, let us be honest with ourselves, other than that, we will be setting examples that we cannot continue to follow” he added.

But the minority, despite boycotting the passage, say they will probe this loan facility.

Dr Clement Apaak, Deputy Ranking member, Education Committee of Parliament told journalists after a tour of some uncompleted projects in the country on Tuesday October 19 2021 that “We are all aware of the inadequacy of infrastructure which is why the obnoxious double track system was introduced.

 “So, when we have structures like this, 90 per cent complete, at a cost of 9 million cedis  and yet we cannot complete it for students to have access to education , for classroom sizes to be reduced, for  communities to have hope  that their wards are going to benefit from the free senior high school, clearly, we cannot forgive government.

“Because the 1.5 billion dollars that GETFund was securitised to obtain  was supposed to help complete what they themselves described as essential educational  infrastructure and they  indicated in their memo  to parliament  to that was to address the increased number of students who have come on stream as a result of the coming into being of the free SHS policy, so why is this here.

“Is it that we don’t have the money? What have they done with the 1.5billion that we securitised the GETFund for? Is it not time they come to parliament to account for how many of the critical educational infrastructure they have completed so that we know there is value for money in a community such as this which doesn’t even have a secondary school. Is it fair?”

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