Dr. Stephen Opuni

The Third Prosecution Witness in the trial involving Dr Stephen Opuni and one other, has said the investigation and disciplinary Committee of COCOBOD recommended the withdrawal of the certificate issued to Agricult Ghana Limited to supply fertilizer to the company.

Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah said the four-member committee also suggested that the contract awarded to the company to supply one million litres of lithovit fertilizer should be abrogated.

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 Wednesday, as he was being led by Mrs Evelyn Keelson, a State Attorney.

He said the committee also recommended that the appointment of Mr A. A Afrifa, the former Head of the Soil Science Division of by Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) should be terminated.

He said the conduct of the former CEO of COCOBOD, Dr Stephen Opuni and that of Mr Afrifa together with Mr Seidu Agongo should be reported to the State investigative agencies for further investigations.

“The Committee also found out that getting to the end of 2016, COCOBOD awarded a contract to Agricult to supply one million litres of lithovit liquid fertilizer for use in the 2017 crop season,” he added.

The witness said the Management of 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 recommendations.

He said the Committee having interrogated all the scientists involved in the testing, deliberated over their answers, reviewed the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), their queries and responses and arrived at the some findings.

Firstly, the witness said the report covering the testing of the lithovit fertilizer was fabricated by Mr Afrifa without the knowledge of the two other scientists Mr J.H Dogbatse and Dr Alfred Arthur and that he never worked on the any lithovit fertilizer.

Dr Adu-Ampomah, a former Deputy CEO in Charge of Agronomy and quality Control at COCOBOD said the lithovit fertilizer submitted by Agricult and tested by Dr Arthur was powdery and that he worked on two months old cocoa seedlings not on any matured cocoa.

The former Executive Director of CRIG also said as part of the Committee’s findings they got to know that lithovit fertilizer that Agricult submitted for testing was powdery not liquid.

“The conclusion of the report that indicated that lithovit fertilizer can be applied on matured Cocoa has no scientific basis and it is not true that any lithovit fertilizer was tested on matured Cocoa,” he added.

He said there was no merit for the procurement of the 700,000 litres of the lithovit fertilizer for application on matured Cocoa to increase yield.

He said the lithovit fertilizer procured was sub-standard according to reports from the Ghana Standard Authority and the University of Ghana, Chemistry Department submitted to the Committee.

Asked, what happened after the deliberation of the Committee, the witness said they put together a report, which included the findings and conclusions and was submitted to the Management of COCOBOD, which was signed by all the four members of the committee.

At this juncture, the prosecution tendered the report from the Committee in evidence through the witness with no objection.

In a cross-examination by Mr Samuel Cudjoe, Counsel for Dr Stephen Opuni asked the witness to give the names of the Dutch and American NGOs he used to work with, but the witness only named the Dutch NGO, which was solidaridad.

The Counsel indicated that “do l take it that you do not know the names of the American NGO you worked with of which the witness said “they are many that l cannot remember.”

Mr Cudjoe suggested to the witness that if indeed he worked with the NGOs, he should be able to mention the names, but Dr Adu-Ampomah Indicated that he had mentioned one, which is the Dutch company’s and could mention more.

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 28 for further cross-examination.

Source: GNA