Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah who is the state's third prosecution witness in the trial of former COCOBOD boss Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo has been cited for perjury.
The Accra High Court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenugah, an Appeal Court Judge, sitting as an additional High Court Judge has set January 9, 2020 to hear the perjury case.
The court had initially fixed December 17 for Samuel Cudjoe, the lawyer for Dr. Opuni, to move the motion for the perjury. However, due to the indisposition of counsel for Seidu Agongo who was to cross-exam the witness right after the motion for the perjury had been moved, counsel involved in the case "concerted" with the judge for a new date.
Dr. Adu-Ampomah has been testifying against former Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Dr. Stephen Opuni as well as Seidu Agongo and his company Agricult Ghana Limited who are standing trial for causing financial loss of over GH¢271 million to the state. They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 each self-recognisance bail.
The witness who is a former deputy chief executive officer at COCOBOD in charge of agronomy and quality control had in his evidence-in-chief, in May 2019, told the court the procurement practice at COCOBOD for fertilizers had always been open tender.
This, he said, were done through advertisement in the papers where product required is specified, and companies whose products have been tested and certified by CRIG that are interested are required to support their bid with documents.
Whilst the case developed, this position was deflated as counsel for the first accused, Dr, Opuni, produced at least 18 contract documents sole-sourced at COCOBOD under the signature of the witness.
Nonetheless, Dr. Adu-Ampomah stuck to his gun as he maintained in court that COCOBOD does competitive tender as well as conceding that sole-sourcing is also used to procure fertilizers at COCOBOD.
“In some instances adverts are placed in the papers. In some other times due to the peculiar nature of some chemicals they are not but in general terms you are supposed to do. But sometimes if it is explained to PPA it could be allowed without placing adverts in the papers,” the Daily Guide newspaper quoted him as saying on its website in July.
This stance ran through the witness’ testimony under cross-examination on several occasions the court sat on the case.
Even when the issue popped up again in court on November 7, 2019, Dr. Adu-Ampomah reiterated his stance on procurement of fertilizers through advertisement in the dailies.
However, armed with the fact that competitive tendering was alien to COCOBOD when it comes to purchasing fertilizers, lawyer Cudjoe probed further and pushed the witness against the wall.
Sensing where the lawyer was travelling to, Dr. Adu-Ampomah dejectedly relinquished his long-held position, and accepted the truth – sole-source was rather the norm.
Early on, when Samuel Cudjoe reminded him that even the Procurement Manager at COCOBOD and others have told the police that all the fertilizers purchased by COCOBOD are sole sourced and not advertised, Dr. Adu-Ampomah retorted, “my Lord that is not true. What pertains is what I just stated, that is depending on the circumstance it could be advertised or sole sourced or known companies could be invited or restrictive tendering can be made.”
Samuel Cudjoe then came hard at him: “I am putting it to you that in the entire life of COCOBOD, there has never been any occasion that the general public has been invited to bid for fertilizers by way of advertisement. It has never happened in any newspaper in Ghana.”
When it became clear that he could be asked to produce evidence of any advertisement done in the past by COCOBOD in purchasing fertilizers, the witness recoiled and said, “for fertilizers, yes my lord”, admitting that no advertisement was ever done.
The lawyer for the first accused who felt the witness has gone against the oath he sworn at the beginning of proceedings to tell the truth has been compromised, and therefore cited him for perjury, which when upheld could land Dr. Adu-Ampomah in jail.