Dr. Stephen Opuni
The computer hard drive being used in the courtroom to record proceedings in the trial of former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr. Stephen Opuni, and businessman, Seidu Agongo, has gone missing, DAILY GUIDE has gathered.
According to sources, the hard drive was taken away during the legal vacation of the Judicial Service when the courts were not sitting.
It is unclear who carried out the act and the motive behind the stealing of the hard drive which contains everything that has transpired in the trial which started in March last year.
It is also not known yet if there is a backup of the proceedings on any external hard drives or if the proceedings were captured on the Electronic Justice System — the e-Justice system introduced by the Judicial Service.
Apart from the hard drive of the computer in ‘Criminal Court 1’ where Dr. Opuni’s trial is taking place, hard drives in some three other courts — all lands courts — were also reportedly stolen.
When the case — which was put on hold for two months as a result of the legal vacation — was called yesterday, the Presiding Judge, Justice Clemence Honyenuga, informed the prosecution and the defence lawyers that there was a “technical problem, a serious technical problem as such, for which reason the computer screens cannot display.”
But DAILY GUIDE after the court proceedings gathered that the “serious technical problem” the judge was referring to could be the missing hard drives.
Unconfirmed reports state that some staff members of the Judicial Service have been picked up by operatives of the National Security in connection with the missing hard drives.
According to sources, among the persons arrested for interrogation include persons who work in the affected courts, as well as some staff from the Information Technology (IT) department of the Judicial Service.
Information available indicates that the arrested staff members were questioned and their mobile phones have been seized for further investigations.
Meanwhile, the trial of Dr. Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo has been adjourned to November 13, 2019.
This follows application for stay of proceedings filed by Samuel Cudjoe, lawyer for Dr. Opuni, at the Court of Appeal.
The application emanated from the ruling of the judge who rejected attempts by Dr. Opuni’s lawyer to tender a letter signed by one Dr. Opoku-Ameyaw through the state’s witnesses.
That was the second time this year that the accused has filed applications at the High Court hearing the case and another at the Court of Appeal seeking to stay the proceedings.
According to Justice Honyenuga of the Court of Appeal, sitting as an additional High Court judge, staying of proceedings would further delay the trial, as the third prosecution witness has been in the box for months.
It was the ruling of the trial judge that Dr. Opuni’s lawyer could not provide a single reason for which the application for stay of proceedings should be granted.
Not satisfied with the decision, the lawyer has filed another application for stay of proceedings at the Court of Appeal pending the determination of an appeal against the decision.
It would be recalled that a similar application was dismissed by the Court of Appeal because it failed to raise any exceptional circumstance for the trial to be stayed.
Dr. Opuni and Seidu Agongo, Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, are before an Accra High Court for causing financial loss to the state to the tune of GH¢217,370,289.22.
The two are facing a total of 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretence, willfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by a public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
The two are in court over the purchase and supply of Lithovit fertilizer which the state said was done in contravention of several laws.
The prosecution led by Director of Public Prosecutions, Yvonne Atakora-Obuobisa, has called three witnesses so far and the third witness, a former Deputy CEO of COCOBOD, Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah, who entered the witness box in May this year is still under cross-examination.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak