Dr. Stephen Opuni

Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, the third prosecution witness in the trial involving Dr Stephen Opuni and one Seidu Agongo, has said it was not true that COCOBOD only purchases agro-chemicals, fertilizers, fungicides and insecticides through sole or single sourcing.

He said some of the purchases are sole sourced, while others were through competitive bidding where an entity tendering committee negotiates on behalf of COCOBOD.

Dr Adu-Ampomah said an entity tender committee reviews the application and this committee was chaired by the CEO with members from other user departments, such as Procurement and legal.

Dr Adu-Ampomah, who is the Special Advisor in charge of Cocoa Affairs to the Minister of Agriculture, was speaking during cross-examination by Mr Samuel Cudjoe, Counsel for Dr Opuni.

Mr Cudjoe pointed out to the witness that in his evidence in Chief, he told the court that before purchases were made for fertilizer, they had to be done by advertising, bidding and tender but the witness disagreed.

Defence counsel then asked the witness what his position was as at June 2011 at COCOBOD of which the witness indicated that he was then Deputy Chief Executive Officer in Charge of Agronomy and Quality Control.

Mr Cudjoe asked the witness whether as the Deputy CEO, he dealt with the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) between 2009 and 2013 of which the witness said that he sometimes dealt with them.

Defence counsel asked whether as the Deputy CEO letters concerning agro-chemicals and fertilizers, which came to the CEO of COCOBOD was always copied to him, of which Dr Adu-Ampomah answered in the affirmative.

Dr Opuni’s lawyer then tendered in as evidence a series of letters with different dates through the witness, which were written by the witness to the PPA, which indicated a sole or single souring for the purchase of fertilizer, agro-chemical, insecticides and fungicides, which was admitted by the court.

Mr Cudjoe presented an approval letter dated May 10 from the PPA for the purchase of 100, 000 bags of Asase fertilizer from Chemico Limited at the cost of $ 3.3 million, of with the witness agreed to that assertion.

Counsel again presented another letter dated 29th May, 2018 written by the witness to the PPA asking to procure fertilizers, insecticides and fungicides by a sole-sourcing which was presented to the court, which the witness agreed that the letter dated June 8, 2018 was approval letter from PPA.

Mr Cudjoe pointed to Dr Adu-Ampomah that on March 27, 2018 he again wrote to the PPA for permission to purchase fertilizers ($21 million), insecticides ($35.22 million) and fungicides ($34.66 million), which the witness agreed he did.

The Defence Counsel, then suggested to the witness that why was there no  committee to review the bidding application for purchase of these agro-chemicals and fertilizers, and that the witness was not being truthful to the court, but the Special Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture disagreed.

Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretenses, willfully 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-recognizance bail.
The case has been adjourned to Tuesday, June 4 for further continuation.

Source: GNA