Lithovit fertiliser purchased based on expert advice – Former COCOBOD Board Chair

Daniel Ohene Agyekum Cocoboa Daniel Ohene Agyekum, Former board chairman of COCOBOD

Wed, 8 Jun 2022 Source: myrepubliconline.com

All agrochemicals, including Lithovit liquid fertiliser, were bought only after technical experts at COCOBOD had advised so, former board chairman Ambassador Daniel Ohene Agyekum has maintained.

According to him, it was these experts who also told the Board as well as the Entity Tender Committee that he chaired that Lithovit is a liquid fertiliser and not powder as claimed by the prosecution.

Giving his evidence in chief in the trial of former COCOBOD Chief Executive Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo on Monday, he said it was CODAPEC and HITECH with the technical expertise that determined the types of fertilisers and quantities to be purchased for every cocoa season.

“I reiterate that all fertilisers, including Lithovit fertiliser which were purchased during my term, were purchased based on an expert recommendation from the relevant units, namely CODAPEC and HITECH, and later Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED).”

The retired diplomat also suggested that it would be unjustifiable to accuse Dr. Opuni of any wrongdoing because all transactions under him were collective decisions sanctioned by the Board and management of COCOBOD.

Speaking via a video link from Kumasi, the former board chairman told the High Court hearing the trial:

“I state further that 1st Accused was also not the person who grants or awards contracts. I am aware from my position as the Board Chairman that it is the management of COCOBOD which awards contracts after laid down procedures with respect to the purchase of fertilisers have been followed.”

Ambassador Daniel Ohene Agyekum was the board chairman of COCOBOD from January 2014 to January 2017 and also served as its Entity Tender Committee Chairman from January 2014 to mid-2016.

He emphasised, “I remember that the Board was briefed by the technical experts on the rationale and need to purchase fertilisers through sole source. I am also aware that all procurement letters to the PPA are written by the Procurement Unit, whilst the determination of quantities of fertilisers to be purchased are determined by the various experts in COCOBOD and never by the Chief Executive that is 1st Accused.

“I have to add that in my dual capacity as the chairman of the ETC and also as a Board Chairman, I know as a fact that it is the management of COCOBOD which awarded contracts for all fertilisers including Lithovit liquid fertiliser during my tenure on the Board of COCOBOD and not the Chief Executive (1st Accused).”

The witness further said all procedures that existed before his appointment was adhered to by his Board.

“As the Board chairman, I can state on authority that all fertilisers, including Lithovit fertiliser which was purchased from Agrlcult Ghana Limited (3rd Accused), went through the proper procedure,” he stressed.

Under cross-examination, counsel for Seidu Agongo, lawyer Nutifafa Nutsukpui asked the witness if COCOBOD suffered any loss in the purchase of Lithovit liquid fertiliser.

Amb. Ohene Agyekum answered, “No my lord, COCOBOD did not suffer any loss whatsoever. The policies clearly stated that, and I say that as a son of cocoa farmers that the government does not own the industry; it is the cocoa farmers who own the industry. If I may clarify, it is the produce that the various licencing authorities purchase that is marketed abroad, the value of which is used to collateralise the loans that the Board obtained. It is for this reason that COCOBOD decided that this Lithovit liquid fertiliser should be provided to farmers free of charge during my tenure as board chairman. After all it is their money. And in the same vein during my term of office, the Board also embarked on a rather ambitious Programme to reconstruct and rebuild roads within the cocoa growing areas.”

The former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo as well as Agricult Ghana Limited, are facing over 25 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, willfully causing financial loss to the state, corruption by public officers and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 self-recognisance bail each.

Source: myrepubliconline.com
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