Godfred Yeboah Dame, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, has said that the decision to approve or reject prior procedures is solely within the discretion of the trial judge.
He asserted, “The trial judge is actually responsible for determining the genuine position of the law. The trial judge bases his decision on what he judges to be important factors.
Godfred Dame made these comments to the media after the Court of Appeal, early this month, rendered a favourable verdict that reversed a High Court order mandating that the trial of the former COCOBOD chairman and two others be reopened.
However, he emphasised that when parties feel wronged, they have the option to contest the judge’s judgement.
Seidu Agongo, a businessman, and Agricult Ghana Limited are all charged with violating the Public Procurement Act and willfully causing financial loss to the government in connection with the purchase of Lithovit liquid fertiliser between 2014 and 2016. The former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr. Stephen Opuni, is also charged, as is the former COCOBOD President.
They are all out on bond and have all entered not guilty pleas.
Following Justice Clemence Honyenuga’s retirement as a Supreme Court justice, the matter was initially given to Justice Kwasi Anokye Gyimah.
Additionally, the judge turned down the prosecution’s request to incorporate the decisions of retiring Supreme Court Justice Honyenuga as part of his first significant action.
In his ruling on April 4, 2023, he stated, “If I adopt the proceedings, I am essentially adopting every action and judgement that the prior judge in the matter has taken, and I will be burdened with the same suspicions and allegations of unfairness that have been levelled against the current state of the proceedings.”
Justice Gyimah also made reference to section 80(2) (a) of NRCD 323 which indicates that one of the elements a court is required to consider when determining the reliability of a witness is the witness’s demeanour.
Even though that may be the correct stance, the court should not disregard any factor, no matter how minor or insignificant it may be, that will improve the chances for an accused person to receive a fair trial in a criminal case where the accused’s freedom is at risk and they are legally presumed innocent and entitled to one.