The legal team for former Cocoa Board CEO Dr Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo, has said there are deliberate and desperate attempts by the state to find wrongdoing against them.
Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges of willfully causing financial loss of GHS217million to the state, through three separate fertiliser supply contracts between 2014 and 2016.
The contracts were GHS43.1million (2013/2014 cocoa farming season), GHS75.3million (2014/2015 cocoa farming season) and GHS98.9million (2015/2016 cocoa farming season) totalling GHS217million through sole-sourcing, the state claimed, adding that procurement procedures for sole-sourcing were not followed.
According to the charges, the consignments of Lithovit Foliar were produced locally, contrary to an agreement between COCOBOD and AgriCult Ghana Company Limited that it be sourced from Germany.
Spokesperson for the team of lawyers for the accused persons, Edudzi Tameklo, told Accra100.5FM’s Ghana Yensom hosted by Chief Jerry Forson on Tuesday, 27 March that in one instance, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) carried out a testing of the fertiliser supplied by AgriCult Company, of which Mr Agongo is MD, in the absence of the representative of the company.
The testing was done at the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), he said, adding that Mr Agongo pointed out to EOCO that it was against standard practice not to involve a representative of the company in the testing process.
“You know, the shocking part of this is: in one of the instances in 2017, EOCO went to Ghana Standards Authority in the absence of AgriCult and its representatives tested the product and came and said they found out that it wasn’t Lithovit Foliar.
“Then the man [Seidu Agongo] protested and said that no, when you are doing this testing, you need an independent witness or observer. The testing should be done in the presence of the company’s representative.
“So, they had to go and do the testing again after he protested and when they went to do the testing again, they found out that it is Lithovit Foliar fertiliser. So, you can see a concerted attempt by state actors just to find wrongdoing.”
In Mr Tameklo’s estimation, it appears there are concerted attempts by state actors to find wrongdoing against the accused persons, who made their first appearance in court on Monday, 26 March.
Mr Tameklo said: “I ask this simple question: a businessman who wants to defraud the state goes through all these laborious processes in testing; Nuclear Research, through the Pesticide Unit of COCOBOD, and he went through rigorous chemical testing?"