Dr. Stephen Opuni

Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, a Prosecution Witness in the trial involving Dr Stephen Opuni and one other, has said the then CEO of COCOBOD in 2015, awarded a contract to Agricult Ghana Limited to supply one million litres of fertilizer.

The cost of the one million litres of the lithovit liquid fertilizer supplied to COCOBOD was $27.5 million.

Dr Adu-Ampomah, who is the Special Advisor in charge of Cocoa Affairs to the Minister of Agriculture was continuing his evidence in chief on Monday, was being led by Mrs Evelyn Keelson, a State Attorney, said in 2016, the same former CEO also ordered 700, 000 litres of the same fertilizer at a cost of $19.250 million.

The Witness said there were no records at COCOBOD indicating that any of such liquid fertilizer has been tested by Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG).

“That is why we requested for the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS),” he said.

Asked why the transition team chaired by him requested for the MSDS, Dr Adu-Ampomah said it was because of the report submitted by the research scientists from CRIG described the product as a grayish powder.

He said per the MSDS attached to the product had information like the two active ingredients present in the product; which were calcium carbonate was 84.5 per cent and the magnesium carbonate was 4.6 per cent.

The Prosecution asked the witness to tell the court the significant of the MSDS of which, Dr Adu-Ampomah said the MSDS is from the original manufacturer of the product and it gives details of the chemical composition, mode of application and the physical status of the product.

The witness said because of the anomalies observed, the team reported the matter to the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and also wrote to Agricult Ghana Limited to suspend the supply of the 2016 contract awarded pending further investigations.

“We also wrote query letters to the scientists involved in the testing of the fertilizer, while EOCO was conducting their investigation,” he added.

He said EOCO approached COCOBOD to give them samples of the fertilizer, which was given them with a covering letter to be sent to the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) and the University of Ghana, Chemistry Department for testing to ascertain its efficacy.

Dr Adu-Ampomah, who was one time the Deputy CEO of COCOBOD in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control, said the report from the GSA indicated the Calcium Carbonate presences in the liquid fertilizer was 0.0002 per cent compared to 84.5 per cent powdery fertilizer on the MSDS.

With regards to the Magnesium Carbonate, the former Executive Director of CRIG said according to the report it had 0.0002 per cent compared to 4.6 per cent in the powdery.

He said the report concluded that the product could not be classified as a fertilizer and that it could not be applied on any matured Cocoa to increase yield.

He said the University of Ghana, Chemistry Department report also concluded that the two ingredients present in the liquid fertilizer were insignificant and it could not be applied on matured Cocoa to increase yield.

He said after receiving the report, COCOBOD in October, 2017 constituted an investigation and disciplinary committee to investigate the anomalies that have occurred in CRIG during the testing of agro-chemicals and make recommendation.

Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences,causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 each self-recognisance bail.

The case has been adjourned to Tuesday, May 21 for continuation.

Source: GNA