It was a no-show in court today, Wednesday, 13 November 2019, as the state's third witness in the ongoing trial of former Ghana Cocoa Board CEO, Dr Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo, failed to appear for cross-examination.
Mr Sam Codjoe, the lead counsel for the first accused person, Dr Stephen Opuni, was billed to continue with the cross-examination of Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah but that could not materialise as the latter failed to make an appearance even after the presiding judge, Justice Clemence Honyenugah stood the case till 11 a.m.
The judge had to stand the case to allow Dr Adu-Ampomah to return to the court after Senior State Attorney Stella Ohene Appiah informed the court that Dr Adu-Ampomah had stepped out in search of food.
According to her, Dr Adu-Ampomah had earlier reported to the court but had to step out after some staff of the court started locking up some offices.
However, Dr Adu-Ampomah was nowhere to be found minutes after the 11 a.m. deadline had elapsed.
When quizzed by the judge about the witness’ whereabouts, Mrs Ohene Appiah said although Dr Adu-Ampomah was en route to the court, he would not be able to make the time since he was commuting from The Cantonments.
This forced the judge to adjourn the case to 27 November 2019 for continuation.
Impact of JUSAG strike
Justice Honyenugah was determined to defy the ongoing nationwide strike by the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSAG) to hear the case.
The staff of the judiciary, after a meeting on Tuesday, declared an indefinite strike until concerns of their allowance and salary discrepancies were duly addressed.
The National Labour Commission, in reaction, declared the action illegal as it said the Commission is currently working on the concerns.
The Executive Secretary of the NLC, Mr Ofosu Asamoah told Valentina Ofori-Afriyie on 505 on Tuesday, 12 November 2019 that the NLC will meet JUSAG in court if they fail to call off the strike and resume work.
But JUSAG will not budge.
As a result of the strike, court clerks, recorders (typists) and other staff failed to show up for the Opuni-Agongo trial.
As of 9:50 a.m. on Wednesday morning when Class91.3FM’s court correspondent Joshua Kojo Mensah got to the High Court Complex, the court room was locked.
As of 10 a.m. when Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo showed up for the hearing, the place was still inaccessible, forcing the accused persons to stand outside the courtroom for several minutes as they waited for the facility to be opened.
After 10 a.m. when the doors were finally unlocked, no court staff was available to prepare the place for the hearing to commence.
A judicial staff later showed up to check the microphones and set the room up.
When the judge finally sat in the chair, he rejected a plea by Mr Codjoe for an adjournment of the case, maintaining that the judiciary was not on strike.
According to him, despite the current situation, there was a need to continue the trial as scheduled.