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COCOBOD trial: Our investigations was not on farmer compliant - Investigator

Tue, 23 Mar 2021 Source: GNA

The Seventh Prosecution Witness in the trial involving Dr Stephen Opuni, a former Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), and two others, says “our investigations was not on farmer compliant on lithovit follar fertilizer.”

Police Detective Chief Inspector, Thomas Prempeh Mercer, the investigator in the trial, said the investigations solely was on testing of the product and what was finally supplied to farmers to apply on their crops.

Detective Chief Inspector Prempeh, under cross-examination by Mr Nutifafa Nutsukpui, Counsel for Seidu Agongo, CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, said it become necessary during the investigations to speak to two farmers, which was insignificant due to the number of Cocoa farmers in the country.

Mr Nutsukpui pointed to the witness that their investigations do not reveal any farmer complaint recorded by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) or any Divisions of COCOBOD against lithovit follar fertilizer but the witness disagrees.

The witness again disagreed with the notion that their investigations never came across any farmer complaint on lithovit fertilizer recorded by CRIG.

The Detective Chief Inspector Prempeh said their investigations was on the fact that Agricult Ghana Limited through its CEO introduced to the Board of COCOBOD in May 2013 lithovit fertilizer in a powder form and when applied to Cocoa, it would produce more yield.

He said it was on this bases that COCOBOD forwarded the agro-chemical on May 15, 2013 in a powder form to CRIG for testing.

The witness said the final report forwarded to COCOBOD also indicated that the lithovit fertilizer was in a powder form.

The Counsel asked the witness that as part of their investigation, he finds out how much Dr Opuni earned monthly at COCOBOD, the witness answered in the affirmative but was not able to mention what Dr Opuni earned.

Asked, whether it was possible that the GHS25, 000, Mr Agongo paid into Dr Opuni’s account could be his own money, the witness disagreed.

The witness told the court that, he had explained and had produced evidence to support his explanation that Dr Opuni in his statement said he gave money to Mr Agongo to be deposited into his account but Mr Agongo on the other hand said he does not remember but rather the money was meant to support Dr Opuni’s Needy Children’s project.

He agreed with the Counsel that the GH¢25, 000 was in the earning capacity of Dr Opuni.

The witness told the court that as part of their investigations, they also investigated the renewal of CRIG certification and they had come across a letter inviting Agricult to make payment for renewal of it certificate.

He also agreed that they came across an invoice raised for the company to make payments for renewal of CRIG certificate and also receipts and when “needs be, he could make them available.”

It was on this note that the court made an order for the witness to produce the invoices, receipts covering the renewal of certification from 2014 to 2017.

Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges including defrauding by false pretences, willfully causing financial loss to the State, money laundering, corruption by a 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 self-recognizance bail, each. The case was adjourned to March, 29, 2021.

Source: GNA
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