11 December 2018

Ghana: COCOBOD Financial Loss Case - Counsel Says Certificate for Agricult Ghana Was Renewed

Counsel for Seidu Agongo who is standing trial together with former Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Dr. Stephen Opuni, for allegedly causing GH¢217 million financial loss to the state in a fertiliser deal, yesterday said that certificate for Agricult Ghana Limited was renewed for the 2015 crop season.

Mr. Benson Nutsukpui told the Accra High Court that Dr. K.Opoku Ameyaw, a former Executive Director of Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), signed the renewal letter, dated November 20, 2014, and addressed to Agricult Ghana Limited.

The counsel said these during cross-examination of the second prosecution witness, Dr. Alfred Arthur, a former acting head of Soil Science Division at CRIG.

The witness, however, told the court presided by Justice Clement Honyenugah that he had not seen that letter, adding that in 2014 CRIG did not carry re-evaluation and renewal of certificate for agro-chemicals and spraying machines.

Mr. Nutsukpui told witness that another letter signed by one Dr. Odoi, a former Deputy Executive Director of CRIG, described Lithovit as a liquid fertiliser, but Dr. Arthur disagreed, and explained that Dr. Odoi, being an animal scientist could mistaken foliar for liquid.

Prosecuting, Mrs. Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), said that on May 15, 2015, COCOBOD took a sample of "Lithovit Fertiliser" to CRIG for testing and certification.

She said a draft report on the "effect" of Lithovit on cocoa seedlings was submitted to the head of Soil Science Division, upon which a final report recommended Lithovit to be applied to mature cocoa even though no field test had been conducted on the product.

Mrs. Obuobisa revealed that Dr.Opuni upon assumption of office as the Chief Executive of COCOBOD, directed contrary to established policy and standard practice that, the period for testing which takes six months be shortened.

She said that upon the direction of the former COCOBOD boss, no laboratory tests were conducted for the renewal of certificate for the use of Lithovit on cocoa.

Mrs. Obuobisa said though Agricult Ghana Limited did not apply for the renewal of certificate as required, its certificate was renewed on the instructions of Dr.Opuni.

She said on February 19, 2014, Dr. Opuni applied to the Public Procurement Authority for Agricult Limited to be single sourced to procure 700,000 litres of Lithovit Foliar fertiliser although conditions for single source had not been satisfied.

In addition, Dr.Opuni was alleged to have stated the price for the 700,000 litres at $19,250,000 (GH¢43,120,000) though the substance sent for testing was in powdery form not liquid.


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