A review panel of the Supreme Court on Tuesday, October 26, 2021, overturned a ruling of the court’s ordinary bench removing Justice Clemence Honynuga as a trial judge in the prosecution of former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Stephen Opuni.
By a 4-3 majority decision, the panel said the earlier decision to remove the presiding judge and to quash his decisions has been overturned.
By implication, Justice Honyenuga is expected to resume his additional responsibilities at the High Court to hear this trial to its conclusion.
The enhanced panel comprised Justices Jones Dotse as President, Agnes Dodzi, Lovelace Johnson, Amadu Tanko, Gabriel Pwamang, Prof. Nii Ashie Kotey, and Getrude Tokonor.
Justice Prof. Nii Ashie Kotey and Lady Gertrude Tokornor were the new Justices added onto the ordinary bench who took side with the minority decision of the ordinary bench, held by Justice Jones Dotse and Lady Lovelace Johnson.
In effect, Lady Agnes Dordzie, Justice Gabriel Pwamang, and Justice Amadu Tanko, who formed the Majority decision on the ordinary bench, became the dissenting view.
Speaking to the media after the hearing, the Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, said this was a demonstration of their long-held suspicion that Dr. Opuni had taken to some antics to delay the case.
But, the day of reckoning for Dr. Opuni was coming, the AG charged.
Opuni’s lawyers push for the removal of Justice Dotse from the panel
Before Tuesday’s ruling, lawyers for Dr. Opuni filed for Justice Dotse, President of the panel, to recuse himself. They cited a meeting that was held between the Attorney-General and Justice Jones Dotse acting as Chief Justice as the basis for the application.
Deputy Attorney General, Alfred Yeboa-Tua, argued that the application was simply in bad faith and only meant to muddy the waters.
He said the meeting complained about was held in the official office of then acting chief justice in broad daylight at 11:00 am, and argued that the applicants had failed to demonstrate either a real likelihood of bias or actual bias that may be occasioned with the inclusion of Justice Dotse on the panel.
The Court in agreeing with this position refused the application for Justice Dotse to recuse himself.
The Attorney General, Godfred Dame, filed for a review following a majority decision upholding an argument of bias against the trial judge, who is also a Supreme Court Justice, Clemence Honyenuga.
In the review application, the Attorney General argued that the decision of the ordinary bench contained fundamental and grave errors which have manifestly resulted in a substantial miscarriage of justice.
“The decision of the ordinary bench of this Supreme Court dated 28 July 2021, contained fundamental and grave errors which have manifestly resulted in a substantial miscarriage of justice, as it effectively ignored the time-honoured fundamental and mandatory preconditions for an invocation of the Supreme Court’s supervisory jurisdiction for an order of certiorari to quash an alleged error contained in a decision of a Superior Court”.
The Attorney General, in his statement of case, further added that “a decision which erroneously departs from recognized principles regarding the invocation of this honourable court’s supervisory jurisdiction is bad in law, manifests injustice and constitutes an exceptional circumstance [thus] warranting a review by the court”.
Mr. Dame also noted that “it is our humble submission that a careful application of relevant principles regarding the invocation of both the supervisory and review jurisdictions of the Court will undoubtedly result in a setting aside of the decision complained of. To preserve the same will be a bad and dangerous precedent for Ghana law.”