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A research and advocacy group, Center for Ethical Governance and Administration (CEGA), has asked Appeal’s Court judge, Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga to resign for “grave misconduct” that violated judges’ code of conduct.
The call follows Justice Honyenuga’s recent endorsement of Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo for a second term in office.
“It is our hope that with your vision and special gains you have made in the economy in your first term, Ghanaians may consider giving you another four years,” the judge speaking in his capacity as the Paramount Chief of Nyagbo Traditional Area with the stool name Torgbui Ashui Nyagasi V, endorsed the president in February at the durbar.
But the Center for Ethical Governance and Administration in a statement said judges are forbidden from publicly endorsing or publicly opposing another candidate for political office.
Justice Honyenuga is the judge in the criminal trial of former COCOBOD boss, Dr. Stephen Opuni and Seidu Agongo at the High Court. The case has been cited by government officials including the president as a proof of alleged corrupt officials in the previous administration being prosecuted.
“It is against this background that CEGA finds the recent comments by Justice Clemence Honyenuga very disturbing and highly objectionable. This is a high profile case very dear to President Akufo-Addo in his fight against supposed corrupt officials of the previous NDC government.”
The statement observed Justice Honyenuga’s comments “do not give Ghanaians the hope and trust that he will be an impartial judge over the Opuni case.
“CEGA condemns in no uncertain terms this inappropriate behavior of a senior member of the Bench.”
The statement signed by Prof. Ohene Adjei Executive Director; Dr. Justice M.K. Aheto Executive Secretary and Mr. George Yankah, demanded that Justice Honyenuga should resign immediately, and also aked the Chief Justice should institute a full scale investigation into this “grave misconduct”.
Meanwhile, lawyers of Dr. Opuni has filed a motion at the Appeal’s Court asking Justice Clemence Honyenuga to recuse himself from the case.
Read CEGA’s full statement below
JUSTICE CLEMENT JACKSON HONYENUGA MUST RESIGN IMMEDIATELY
The Center for Ethical Governance and Administration (CEGA) has learnt with great shock and dismay a public statement made by Justice Jackson Honyenuga, a senior member of the Bench as a Court of Appeal Judge. Currently, he has an additional responsibility as a High Court Judge trying the case of the State and Dr. Stephen Opuni the former Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and Mr. Seidu Agongo, a private business man. Justice Honyenuga is also the Paramount Chief of Nyagbo Traditional Area with the stool name Torgbui Ashui Nyagasi V. He noted in a statement among others that “It is our hope that with your vision and special gains you have made in the economy in your first term, Ghanaians may consider giving you another four years.”
He made that statement during a durbar of chiefs and people of Golokwati, Afadzato South in honor of President Akufo Addo who was on a recent tour of the Volta and Oti regions. He openly declared his support for the President Akufo Addo and extolled his virtues to influence the people to give him a second term as president of Ghana.
Justice Honyenuga’s public support for President Akufo Addo
Justice Honyenugah was quoted as saying “We wish to congratulate you for the excellent manner you are governing this dear country of ours, and the significant gains made in the economy in your first term.” He noted that “it is true that you have won high admiration not only in Africa but also in advanced democracies.” “Your flagship programs like the Free Senior High School and the Planting for Food and Jobs which has increased food production and has even led to exports, One District One Factory.” He further observed, “For special mention is the free SHS which has broken boundaries and bridged the gap between the rich and the poor. This program has also broken the record held by the first president of the republic of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who gave free education to our brothers and sisters in the northern part of Ghana. It is our hope that with your vision and the special gains you have made in the economy in your first term, Ghanaians may consider giving you another four years.”
This is coming from a judge sitting on a case involving the former Ghana COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr. Stephen Opuni and Seidu Agongo, the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited.
Genesis of the Opuni case To scratch the surface of memory, Dr. Stephen Opuni was appointed CEO of COCOBOD by former president John Mahama in November 2013. Immediately after assuming the reign of government in January 7, 2017 President Akufo Addo authorized a letter dated January 12, 2017and signed by the Executive Secretary to the president, Nana Asante Bediatuo, asked Dr. Opuni to hand over to Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto.
On February 21, 2017, Dr. Opuni’s assets were seized by the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) pending conclusions into investigations of fraudulent transactions during his tenure. Among other things, Dr. Opuni had been accused of abetment of crime and defrauding by false pretense. Between January 2014 and November 2014, he according to the State, abetted Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited to defraud COCOBOD of Gh43,120,000. Again between November 2014 and November 2015, Opuni conspired with Agongo to defraud COCOBOD of Ghc75,289,314.72.
Also between October 2015 and March 2016, a similar incident the State said happened which led to COCOBOD being defrauded of some Ghc98,935,974.50. According to the State, Agongo presented proposals to supply Lithovet Foliar fertilizer from Germany to farmers for the 2014/2015 cocoa season, a claim he knew was false at the time of making it.
The case has gone through twists and turns since the hearing started. In the latest twist, an Accra High Court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenuga struck out an affidavit in opposition to a motion of perjury filled by Opuni against the State’s third prosecution witness Dr. Yaw Adu Ampoma in the case of the Republic versus Opuni and Agongo.
It is against this background that CEGA finds the recent comments by Justice Clemence Honyenuga very disturbing and highly objectionable. This is a high profile case very dear to President Akufo Addo in his fight against supposed corrupt officials of the previous NDC government.
Code of Conduct Every recognized profession in a society is guided by a Code of Conduct to lead or guide its members in the performance of their functions. Responsible professionals hold the spirit and the letter of the Code of Ethics in high esteem. To be very effective in practice, the code is observed by its members to the letter. It is regarded as a standard for moral and ethical behavior.
The noble Law profession is not exempted from this Code of Conduct. In actual fact, Rule 6 of the Code of Conduct for Judges and Magistrates titled “Political and quasi political activity”, states: “A judge should refrain from political activity inappropriate to his Judicial office.”
Section A of Rule 6 which is in reference to political conduct of Judges in general, says: “1. Notwithstanding Article 55(2) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, a judge or a candidate for appointment to judicial office should not:
(a) Act as a leader or hold an office in a political organization;
(b) Publicly endorse or publicly oppose another candidate for political office;
(c) Make speeches on behalf of a political organization;
(d) Attend political gatherings; or purchase tickets for political party dinners or other functions”.
Section C of Rule 6 of the Code of Conduct for Judges and Magistrates, which deals with ‘Permissible political activity for Incumbent judges’, states that “A Judge shall not engage in any political activity except on measures to improve the law, the legal system or the administration of justice; or (2) as expressly authorized by law”.
Constitution of Ghana
In addition, the 1992 Constitution of Ghana bars chiefs from taking part in partisan politics. As far as the chiefs are concerned, Section(1) of Article 276 states: “a chief shall not take part in active politics, and any chief wishing to do so and seeking election to parliament shall abdicate his stool or skin.”
Section (2) of the same Article, however says: “Notwithstanding clause (3) of Article 94 of this Constitution, a chief may be appointed to any public office which he is otherwise qualified.
CEGA findings and demands As part of our observations his outward expressions do not give Ghanaians the hope and trust that he will be an impartial judge over the Opuni case. CEGA condemns in no uncertain terms this inappropriate behavior of a senior member of the Bench
It is very clear that Justice Honyenuga violated Section A (a) (b) and (c) of Rule 6 of the Code of Ethics for Judges and Magistrates as well as Section (1) Article 276 of the 1992 Constitution. Having breached both the Judicial Act and the Constitution, we demand that;
- Justice Honyenuga should resign immediately.
- The Chief Justice should institute a full scale investigation into this grave misconduct.
- The Chief Justice must put him before the Judiciary Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council.
- Furthermore, the National House of Chiefs should apply the necessary sanctions to him and any other chief who falls foul of the provisions in the Constitution, to save the chieftaincy institution from being further damaged and dragged into partisan politics for parochial gains.
Prof. Ohene Adjei
Dr. Justice M.K. Aheto
Mr. George Yankah
Source: 3news.com | Ghana