The second prosecution witness Dr. Alfred Arthur, a Soil Scientist at the CRIG has admitted falsifying scientific reports on a fertilizer he claimed to have tested between 2014 and 2016.
He made this revelation in court after being asked by Lawyer for the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr. Stephen Opuni if he was conscious of the circumstances that led to his suspension.
“Dr Arthur, in 2016, you were suspended by CRIG in relation to a fertilizer called Cocoa Nti fertilizer.”
Dr. Alfred Arthur answered: Yes my Lord.
Lawyer Samuel Cudjoe further asked “In fact by letter dated 25th October 2016 signed by Director of Agronomy, in the letter, they stated your involvement in the scientific report for ‘Cocoa Nti’ granular fertilizer?” Dr. Alfred Arthur answered: Yes, my Lord.
Though the second prosecution insisted that he didn’t see the report he admitted he was suspended for forging a scientific report. Dr. Alfred Arthur was equally found by the Committee to have visited the factory of a company in Morroco in his personal capacity without any official authorization.
The Committee also found him guilty of giving a false statement to COCOBOD about the testing of the fertilizer, after he claimed that he conducted a test on the fertilizer, when it was established that the company applied for the testing on the 31st March, 2016; he had allegedly conducted the testing before the company applied for the testing sponsored by a company called Enepa Ventures.
Dr Alfred Arthur was subsequently suspended for falsifying the scientific report and transferred to Bunso. Dr Alfred Arthur also claimed he had been appointed Acting Executive Director without any official appointment letter.
Below is the interaction between Lawyer Cudjoe and Dr. Arthur in court
Q: Dr Arthur,in 2016, you were suspended by CRIG in relation to a fertilizer called Cocoa Nti fertilizer.
Ans: Yes my Lord.
Q: In fact by letter dated 25th October 2016 signed by Director of Agronomy, in the letter they stated your involvement in the scientific report for cocoa nti granular fertilizer. Ans: Yes, my Lord.
Q: In fact,after that the committee recommended you Dr Arthur to be suspended for forging a scientific report to support your claim that Cocoa Nti granular fertilizer was submitted in 2013 and tested by yourself as the lead author and recommending it to cocoaboard.
Ans: My Lord,as I said I didn't see the Report.
Q: But Dr Arthur, you are aware that you were suspended because Cocobod found out that the scientific report recommending Cocoa Nti fertilizer which you claim to have worked on after submission to CRIG was false . Ans: My Lord I didn't see any Report.
Judge: Were you suspended?
Dr Arthur: Yes my Lord.
Q: And in fact after CRIG had set up the Investigation Panel to investigate you,you were suspended after these allegations by Cocobod had been found out to be true. Ans: Yes,My Lord.
Q: Dr Arthur,in 2013,when you claimed to have received the cocoa nti fertilizer which the CRIG committee found to be false,Dr.Adu Ampomah was the Deputy Chief Executive of Cocobod in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control.
Ans: Yes my Lord.
Q: And in fact one of the recommendation was that after your suspension,you should not work at CRIG where you will be involved in the testing of fertilizers and agro chemicals.
Ans: Yes my Lord but I would like to add that the suspension letter dated April 7th 2017 was suspension and transfer to Bunso.
Q: You are also aware that Dr Oppong, the Deputy CEO of Q& C who ordered CRIG to investigate the cocoa nti fertilizer report which culminated in your suspension had been removed and replaced by Dr Adu Ampomah in 2017?
Ans: Yes my Lord.
Case against Opuni and Agongo
In March 2018, the Attorney-General charged Opuni and Agongo with 27 counts for allegedly engaging in illegalities that caused financial loss of GH¢271.3 million to the state and led to the distribution of substandard fertilisers to cocoa farmers.
According to the A-G, Dr Opuni, during his tenure as COCOBOD CEO (November 2013 to January 2017), breached laid-down procedures in procurement and other laws that caused the state to lose GH¢271.3 million in the alleged fertiliser scandal.
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.
They are currently on bail in the sum of GH¢300,000 each.