General News Mon, 17 Dec 2018

Opuni Trial: Key CRIG documents missing; COCOBOD fails to produce them as ordered by court

The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has set up a committee to probe the possible tampering of documents which are key to the ongoing Opuni-Agongo trial, at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG).

This was disclosed in court today, Monday, 17 December 2018 by the Deputy Director, Legal at COCOBOD, Johanes Velpa, when CRIG failed to produce some letters in accordance with an earlier directive by the court.

Mr Benson Nutsukpui, Counsel for the 2nd and 3rd accused persons Seidu Agongo and Agricult, on Monday pointed out that although some of the documents have been produced, some key attachments have been omitted.

According to Mr Nutsukpui, the first is an invoice attached to the letter of 20th November 2014, an evaluation report on Codapec/hitec products submitted to COCOBOD per CRIG letter CRG27/118/4643 dated 31st August 2016 and a report on the analysis of two granular fertiliser samples in rice sack submitted to the Chief Executive on the 24th of October 2016 by a letter with reference number CRG39/14Vol22/5577.

Mr Nutsukpui also prayed the court for an update on the effort to trace another letter dated 21 October 2014.

Mr Velpa said they have traced the file that contains that particular letter, however, Folio 44 to 47 of the same file seem to have been either misfiled or the records have been tampered with.

The letter is, however, not on the file even though its Vol. number was supposed to be in the middle. Mr Velpa added that they have, therefore, set up a committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the non-availability of that letter.

In March 2018, the Attorney General charged former COCOBOD CEO Dr Stephen Opuni and Mr Agongo, the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, with 27 counts.

It is the contention of the AG that Dr Opuni, during his tenure as COCOBOD CEO (November 2013 to January 2017), breached laid-down procedures in procurement and other laws that led the state to lose GHS271.3 million in the alleged fertiliser scandal and the distribution of substandard fertiliser to cocoa farmers.

Mr Agongo is also alleged to have used fraudulent means to sell substandard fertiliser to COCOBOD for onward distribution to cocoa farmers.

The two accused persons have denied any wrongdoing and have pleaded not guilty to all the 27 charges and have each been granted a GHS300,000.00 self-recognisance bail by the court.

Source: classfmonline.com
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