The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has been given two weeks by an Accra High Court to release the reports of a committee set up to investigate missing and tampering of documents requested by lawyers in the trial of its former Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Kwabena Opuni and businessman, Seidu Agongo.
This was after lawyer for Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited, Benson Nutsukpui, insisted that he would need the documents to successfully cross-examine the state’s second prosecution witness, Dr. Alfred Arthur.
The two are on trial before an Accra High Court for causing financial loss to the state to the tune of GH¢217,370,289.22.
The two are facing a total of 27 charges including defrauding by false pretense, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by a public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
The court, presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenugah, an Appeal Court judge sitting as an additional High Court judge, earlier this month directed the Executive Director of CIRG to furnish it with the letters and documents at the request of private legal practitioner, Benson Nutsukpui, lead counsel for Seidu Agongo.
The documents requested by the lawyer include a letter dated November 20, 2014, for renewal of certificate for pesticides, fertilizers and spraying machines from January to December 2015 and another letter dated October 21, 2014.
The letters, according to the lawyer, show that there has been correspondence between CRIG and Agricult Company Limited which referred to Lithovit fertilizer as liquid although the state’s second prosecution witness, Dr. Alfred Arthur, denied that such a thing exists.
But the Deputy Director of Legal Affairs at COCOBOD, Johanes Velpa, told the court that the file containing the October 21, 2014 letter has either been misfiled or tampered with as the letter is nowhere to be found.
He said efforts to trace the said letter led them to access the file containing the letter but it was not in the file as it was supposed to be, suggesting that someone might have tampered with the file.
He said COCOBOD has subsequently set up a committee to investigate circumstances surrounding the non-availability of that letter.
Appearing before the court yesterday, Mr. Nutsukpui asked about progress made by the committee with regard to unravelling circumstances leading to the missing documents suspected to have been tampered with.
Mr. Velpa told the court that the committee has not completed its work yet but preliminary reports suggest that the whereabouts of the documents cannot be traced and it is not clear who might have tampered with them.
The lawyer, however, insisted that he would need the document in order to conclude his cross-examination of the second witness who has been in the dock for almost three months.
The court subsequently adjourned the matter to February 6, 2019, by which time the report of the committee would have been out.
The court therefore ordered lawyers for COCOBOD to file the report of the committee ahead of the date for the next sitting.
Meanwhile, the second prosecution witness, Alfred Arthur, an oil scientist at CRIG, has insisted that there was no recertification of agrochemicals and spraying machines by CRIG in 2015, hence no recertification for Lithovit product as suggested by the defense lawyer.
This was after lawyer for Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited, Benson Nutsukpui, insisted that Dr. Gilbert John Anin Kwarpong, a former Executive Director of CRIG, in his handing over note said that there was recertification for agrochemicals and spraying machines in 2015.
“I have not sighted that report. What I can say is that during his time there was no re-evaluation of chemicals and spraying machines approved by COCOBOD. I’m surprised you’re saying there was re-evaluation in 2014 for which certificate was issued in 2015. I have also said that the Lithovit certificate given by Dr. Amoah in 2014 was not renewed in 2015. The certificate issued by Dr. Kwarpong on March 21 2015 has the name Agricult Lithovit, a product CRIG never tested”, the witness insisted.