Claims by prosecution witness Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah that the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) does not do sole-sourcing in procuring fertilisers and other agrochemicals have been shot down in court.
Dr Adu-Ampomah, a former Deputy Chief Executive Officer at COCOBOD in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control had in his evidence-in-chief, told the court that the procurement practice there had always been open tender.
These, he said, were done through advertisements in the papers, where the product required is specified, and companies registered by CRIG that are interested were required to support their bid with documents.
It, however, turned out in court on Tuesday that his claim was not true.
He has been testifying in the case in which a former Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Dr Stephen Opuni as well as businessman Seidu Agongo and his company Agricult Ghana Limited are standing trial for causing financial loss to the state.
Mr Samuel Cudjoe, counsel for the first accused, continuing his cross-examination, bombarded the witness with documentary proof of correspondence between COCOBOD and the Public Procurement Authority, which he was a party to, where requests for sole sourcing of fertilisers were approved.
At least, 18 documents, being letters from COCOBOD to PPA requesting clearance to sole-source fertilisers and various agrochemical products and approval letters from the Authority, were tendered in evidence through the witness.
Dr Adu-Ampomah who was the Deputy Chief Executive at COCOBOD between 2009 and 2013, retired and returned to the establishment again in 2017 as Deputy Chief Executive before moving on to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in October 2018 as the adviser to the sector minister on cocoa affairs.
His evidence-in-chief on national competitive tendering fell flat as it was proven in court that, indeed, the letters to PPA requesting for the sole-sourcing of fertilisers were written and signed by Dr Adu-Ampomah himself and was also in-copy of the other letters.
The sole sourcing of fertilisers happened between 2011 and 2013 as well as several others in 2018 when he was re-engaged at COCOBOD.
In one of such letters, the witness wrote to PPA on March 27, 2018, to sole-source the purchase of fertilisers costing over 35 million dollars, insecticides for over 21 million dollars and fungicides which was also over 34 million dollars. His request was approved by the Authority on April 5, 2018.
“Dr Adu Ampomah, when you said before purchases are made for fertiliser, it has to be advertised and specifying the product they required, you were not being truthful,” Samuel Cudjoe asked him.
“My Lord I was being truthful. All these letters were written with prices because the entity tender committee had met and decided, otherwise, the PPA would have not allowed,” he answered.
The defence counsel pressed further, “in fact, I am telling you that all purchases of fertilisers, fungicides, insecticides are done through sole- or single-sourcing.”
But the witness insisted, “No my Lord, it is not the case. Before the prices are determined, the entity tender committee would have met and that the single or sole sourcing comes with reasons.”
“Dr Adu-Ampomah, I am telling you that all fertilisers bought at COCOBOD have been through sole-sourcing,” the lawyer put to him, to which he replied, “My Lord, some of them are not sole-sourcing. The entity tender committee always negotiates the prices.”
The case has been adjourned to June 4, 2019, for continuation.
Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo have been charged with 27 counts, including wilfully causing financial loss to the state, contravention of the Public Procurement Act, defrauding by false pretence, money laundering and corruption of a public officer.
The two have pleaded not guilty to all the charges and are on self-recognisance bail of GH¢300,000 each.