More revelations continue to emerge from the ongoing trial of former Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) CEO Dr Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo.
Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, the state's third prosecution witness on Thursday, 20 June 2019 told the court that the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) under the leadership of Dr Frank Amoah (the first prosecution witness) refused to issue a renewal certificate for Lithovit fertiliser in 2017 even though Agricult Ghana Limited adhered to the new process for certificate renewal.
Responding to a question posed by Mr Sam Cudjoe, counsel for Dr Opuni, as to whether or not Agricult put in an application for the renewal of Lithovit’s certificate in 2017, Dr Adu-Ampomah told the court: “Yes my lord”, explaining: “During the preliminary investigation, it happened”.
“Agricult submitted an application for renewal of their certificate, which is normally done and it gave management the opportunity to further interrogate the anomalies in the testing of chemicals at CRIG, so, we forwarded the application to CRIG. When it got there, the Executive Director called me to inquire why I have forwarded the application to CRIG knowing that that chemical was one of the subjects under investigation, and that they cannot work on it. So, I asked them to respond to my letter. They never responded”, he narrated.
Dr Adu-Ampomah further affirmed that in the said letter (dated 9th March 2017) which he wrote to CRIG for the renewal of certificate, he attached a copy of the 2016 renewal certificate for Lithovit fertiliser.
Pressed for answers as to why he attached the 2016 renewal certificate after he had stated previously that the 2015 and 2016 renewal certificates for Lithovit were fraudulently obtained, Dr Adu-Ampomah explained: “My lord, as I said, this was all part of gathering information during the preliminary investigation”.
Mr Cudjoe then challenged the claim by Dr Adu-Ampomah that when he submitted the certificate renewal application to CRIG, Dr Frank Amoah (the Executive Director of CRIG at the time) placed a phone call to him (Dr Adu-Ampomah) to question why such a letter was sent to CRIG while Lithovit was under investigation.
Mr Cudjoe also reminded the court that in Dr Frank Amoah's statements to the police and his evidence in court, nothing was ever mentioned about the said phone call to which Dr Adu-Ampomah responded: "That's up to him my lord".
Dr Adu-Ampomah then alluded to the fact that at COCOBOD and CRIG, the norm for communication, especially on official matters, was through writing and that is why he asked Dr Frank Amoah “…to respond to my letter and he never responded and that was the end of the matter”.
Meanwhile, the court presided over by Justice Clemence Horrnyenuga has re-ordered the Chief Executives of COCOBOD and the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) to produce:
1. All letters written by COCOBOD through Dr Stephen Opuni to the PPA for approval to sole-source contracts for procurement of all fertilisers from December 2013 to December 2016.
2. All letters written by PPA to COCOBOD granting approval to sole-source all fertilisers from December 2013 to December 2016.
The said parties are to produce the documents within 7 days of service upon them. The case has been adjourned to Wednesday, 26 June 2019 for continuation of cross-examination.