The Supreme Court has, in a majority decision, stopped Justice Clemence Honyenuga from continuing with the trial in which Dr Stephen Opuni and two others are standing trial at the High Court.
The five-member panel of the apex court, in a three-two majority, ruled that Justice Honyenuga is prohibited from continuing with the trial of the former Ghana Cocoa Board Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Dr Opuni and two others have pleaded not guilty to the charges, including causing financial loss to the state in a lithovite fertiliser issue.
The panel of five presided over by Justice Jones Victor Dotse, also granted the request for portions of the ruling on a submission of no case to be quashed.
On June 9, this year, a second attempt by lawyers for Dr Opuni to have Justice Honyenuga recuse himself failed.
The former Cocobod CEO has accused the trial judge of bias.
The lawyers say Justice Honyenuga had made comments in open court in his ruling on a ‘submission of no case’ application that leaves them in no doubt that their client will not get a fair hearing.
Dr Opuni is accused of causing a $217 million financial loss to the state and has been standing trial since 2017.
The first of such applications was filed in March 2020 because the trial judge had openly campaigned for President Nana Akufo-Addo.
The judge is reported to have said at a traditional ceremony in a community, where he (judge) is a Paramount Chief, that the current President had done well with the Free Senior High School programme which has bridged the education gap between the rich and the poor in the country.
The court dismissed the application after the judge had held that he was taken aback by the decision of Dr Opuni to politicise the trial.
Dr Opuni subsequently went to the Supreme Court to plead for the removal of Justice Honyenuga from his case.
Still, a five-member panel, presided over by Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah and assisted by Justices Jones Dotse, Sule Gbadegbe, Nene Amegatcher and Gertrude Torkornoo, dismissed the application for lacking merit and not supported by any fact.
Lawyers for Dr Opuni renewed their attempt to get Justice Honyenuga off the case after the judge held that the prosecution has established a prima facie case against Dr Opuni, businessman Seidu Agongo and his Agricult Ghana Limited.