Defence not obliged to show document to witness - Court
An Accra High Court on Monday said according to section 74 of the Evidence Act, the Counsel for Seidu Agongo, the Chief Executive Officer of Agricult Ghana Limited has no obligation to show documents to the witness before questioning him on it.
Justice Clemence Honyenugah, an Appeal Court Judge, sitting as an additional High Court Judge in the trial of Dr Stephen Opuni former CEO of the COCOBOD and Mr Agongo dismissed an objection raised by the prosecution for the documents to be shown to the witness before questioning him on it.
Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by a public officer and acting in contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
They have pleaded not guilty and are on a GH¢300,000.00 each self-recognisance bail by the Court.
The judge said the Dr Alfred Arthur, a scientist at the Soil Science Division of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG); in his evidence in chief to the court said he appeared before a Committee initiated by COCOBOD, hence the Counsel for Mr Agongo wanted to test his knowledge about things that took place before the Committee.
Mrs Yvonne Attakorah Obuobisa, the Director of Public Prosecutions, who raised an initial objection to the line of questioning from Mr Benson Nutsukpui, Counsel for Mr Agongo, saying he was reading word for word from a report not in evidence.
She said once the document has not been tendered as evidence, the Counsel could not quote from it as if it was before the Court.
Mr Nutsukpui said “I have not quoted any part of the report which the prosecution provided us”.
He said the Defence believed that the Court has to assess the credibility of the witness; hence “l am giving the witness the opportunity to answer these questions, since he said he appeared before the Committee”.
Mr Nutsukpui said it would be unfair for the defence to address the Court on the credibility of the witness without giving him the opportunity to defend himself.
“I was just suggesting the questions to him, in any case we are not oblige to show him the documents before cross-examination,” he added.
Mr Nutsukpui in further cross-examination of Dr Arthur pointed out to him that a letter with its invoice attachment from CRIG in 2014 described the product as liquid follar fertilizer but the witness said “as I stated earlier I have not sighted any of such documents”.
He also pointed to the witness that CRIG in all its correspondences has described the products as a lithovit liquid follar fertilizer but the witness disagreed saying CRIG never tested any lithovit liquid follar fertilizer.
He said what CRIG tested between July to December 2013 was a powdery lithovit follar fertilizer from Germany and a report was submitted to the then CEO of COCOBOD, Dr Opuni on January 20th, 2014 and the report was approved by management of COCOBOD with a covering letter signed by Dr Opuni on January 21, 2014.
“The name of the product was in bold caps as LITHOVIT FOLLAR POWDERY FERTILIZER and a certificate issued by Dr F. M. Amoah, the then Executive Director of CRIG on January 22, 2014,” he added.
Counsel for Agongo then asked about the relationship between Enepa Venture, OCP Group, and AMG pf which the witness said between AMG and Enepa Ventures, one was a subsidiary of the other, and however, there was no link at all between Enepa, OCP Group and AMG.
Mr Nutsukpi pointed out to the witness “You told the Committee that OCP is a French Company based in Morocco and are major distributors of Fertilizer” but Dr Arthur said he does not remember telling the Committee that.
Mr Nutsukpui further alleged further that the witness said that Enepa Ventures were local Representatives of OCP but the witness disagreed with this assertion.
The Counsel asked the witness that “You told the Committee that you met the OCP officials when you coincidentally attended a conference in Morocco, where they were also present” but the witness disagreed.
Dr Arthur, who is the second prosecution witness explained that two officials from the OCP Group were in Ghana and visited the Soil Research Institute in Kumasi to find out, whether they could conduct a test on Maize and Rice.
Counsel not satisfied with the answer given by the witness reframed the question by asking, “if you told the Committee that you coincidentally met the OCP officials at a conference in Morocco, it will be a lie” but the witness said what he told the Committee that he was invited by the OCP Group and all email correspondence to that effect were made available to the Committee.
Asked, whether it was true that he (Dr Arthur) got the Material Safety Data Sheet of the products to be tested before the first meeting with the OCP officials in Ghana but the witness told the Court that there was no link between the OCP officials and the Enepa Ventures wanting to test fertilizer products on Cocoa.
Counsel alleged that the witness sealed the OCP deal way back before the arrival of the officials but the witness said that was not the case but added that “as I explained earlier, the invitation came to the scientists first before it was directed at management to either approve or not and in this case it was approved”.
The Court presided over by Justice Honyenugah adjourned the case to Monday, December 17, for continuation of the hearing.