COCOBOD trial: All purchases cleared by procurement unit valid – AG's witness

A witness of the Attorney General in the ongoing trial of former COCOBOD CEO, Dr. Stephen Opuni, has maintained that the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD cannot be held liable for any purchase sanctioned by the procurement unit. Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah, who is a former Deputy CEO in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control, reiterated this position in court on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 that every product that goes through the procurement process of COCOBOD means it has been “validly procured”. He has been testifying against Dr. Stephen Opuni and Seidu Agongo the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited accused of causing financial loss of GH¢271.3 million to the state due to the distribution of “sub-standard” fertiliser to cocoa farmers. Dr. Adu-Ampomah who is the third prosecution witness on January 9, 2020 repeatedly told the court that certification from Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) is enough reason to believe that products are duly tested. “Sir do you know whether or not a sample of the Asontem liquid fertilizer has ever been tested by CRIG?” Nutifafa Nutsukpui, who is holding brief for Benson Nutsukpui, counsel for Agongo, asked during cross-examination. Dr. Adu-Ampomah then replied “my Lord, so long as a CRIG certification was accompanying it, it is assumed it was tested.” Mr. Nutsukpui then put it to him, “Will I be right to say any one in your position and CEO of Ghana Cocoa Board has done no wrong to rely on CRIG certification to award contract on fertilizers and agrochemicals.” Dr. Adu-Ampomah answered, “My Lord ideally yes”. Following the same trajectory, Dr. Adu-Ampomah on January 21, stressed on the inculpability of any Chief Executive of COCOBOD who bought any agrochemical product that has been certified by CRIG and the procurement process approved by the procurement unit. The witness was showed a letter dated 16th June 2017 which he himself signed for COCOBOD to award WA GreenOK Company Limited a contract for the supply of 200,000 liters of GreenOK fertilizer. After it has been tendered in evidence and marked as Exhibit 46, he was asked when GreenOK organic foliar fertilizer came to the attention of COCOBOD, which he said “I wouldn’t know my Lord”. He was then asked if CRIG really tested it and his answer remained “I wouldn’t know my Lord”.   “Now look at exhibit 46. What commended COCOBOD to award the contract?” counsel for the second accused asked. He replied, “my Lord the procurement process has been explained to the court already, so this contract went through the same process”. The lawyer then told him, “Please tell the court every product that goes through COCOBOD procurement process would mean that they have been validly procured”. Dr. Adu-Ampomah responded, “Yes my Lord”. The counsel also touched on the Elite fertilizer which he said COCOBOD procured on two occasion –in February 2013 and June 2013 – prior to its certification by CRIG in 2014.

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Read also: Double standard? AG’s witness Adu-Ampomah says CRIG test results are credible Read excerpts of the Tuesday’s proceedings Q: show him exhibit 49. One of the products in respect of which COCOBOD sought approval is Elite fertilizer, is that correct? Ans: yes my Lord Q: please take a look at exhibit 23 also and confirm to this honourable court that, it is one of the products listed in that exhibit of which COCOBOD sought approval. Ans: yes my Lord Q: did COCOBOD procure the Elite organic fertilizer? Ans: it is possible my Lord Q: do you know when a sample of Elite organic fertilizer was brought to COCOBOD for testing? Ans: no my Lord Q: do you know whether it was ever certified by CRIG? Ans: no my Lord Q: I am putting it to you that the Elite organic fertilizer was first certified after 13th October, 2014. Ans: I wouldn’t know my Lord Q: you are not aware that COCOBOD carried any investigation before ordering the product, would you? Ans: my Lord so far as the name of the products appears here, it means it is certified. Q: with respect to lithovit, are you aware of any complaint from farmers or users of the product at COCOBOD? Ans: my Lord during the primarily investigation and also during EOCO’s investigation, some farmers complained that the liquid fertilizer was like water and that when they go to their farms and there is no water they could drink some. Q: Typically, the farmers’ complaint will come through CRIG and CHED. Ans: yes my Lord and including any of the COCOBOD subsidiaries. Q: in this case, the complaint came only upon the interrogation of EOCO. Ans: yes in this case Q: so you won’t be surprised if I told you that Dr. Arthur (second prosecution witness) said CRIG is not aware of any user or farmer complaint about lithovit. Ans: I wouldn’t know.
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Source: | Ghana]]>