Dr. Stephen Opuni
Samuel Codjoe, counsel for former Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) Chief Executive, Dr. Stephen Opuni, has grilled a witness in the ongoing trial of Dr. Opuni and businessman, Seidu Agongo, at an Accra High Court.
The witness, Peter Osei Amoako, Director of Finance at COCOBOD, ended his evidence-in-chief led by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Yvonne Atakora-Obuobisa, and had told the court among other things that Dr. Opuni allegedly signed a contract for the supply of fertiliser for the 2014/2015 crop season with an expired certificate from the supplier.
He also told the court about how Dr. Opuni wrote a letter to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) to single source the purchase of 700,000 litres of lithovit liquid fertiliser at an estimated price of $19.25 million.
The company that was given the contract was Agricult Ghana Limited, owned by businessman Seidu Agongo, who has been charged with causing financial loss to the state.
He also told the court how the Board of COCOBOD decided to terminate the 2016/17 contract awarded to Agricult Ghana Limited owned by Seidu Agongo.
He also told the court that per the records, the fertiliser which is the subject matter of the trial, did not go through the two-year minimum testing period as required, and said that although the fertiliser was only tested on seedlings, the product procured was applied on mature cocoa trees.
Mr. Codjoe in his cross-examination put it to the witness that he was not made a deputy director but “you were jumped straight to the position of substantive director after acting for some months?”
The witness said “yes”, and explained that “at the level of a senior manager, it is the decision of the executive to appoint the director. I want to say that at the time of my appointment, I was the senior among my colleagues. There are instances were managers are appointed to the position of directors. So my lord, appointment of directors is recommended by the executive to the board of directors.”
Mr. Codjoe asked the witness that after budget had been prepared for the procurement of agrochemicals, it is the HiTEC and Cocoa Health Extension Division (CHED) which will meet and determine the kind and types of fertilisers to be purchased for the cocoa season, but the witness said ‘no’ because CHED does not play any role.
Lawyer: In fact the former Deputy Chief Executive in the person of Dr. Adu-Ampomah said CHED plays a role in the determination of fertilisers and chemicals to be purchased for cocoa season. Do you agree with this?
Witness: My lord I have not heard Dr. Adu-Ampomah make that comment.
Lawyer: So I will assume that your answer is ‘no’?
Witness: My lord, I don’t know. I have not heard Dr. Adu-Ampomah make that comment.
Lawyer: So Mr. Osei Amoako, I am putting it to you that in COCOBOD before fertilisers are purchased, it is the user units and not the Chief Executive which indicates the kind and type of fertiliser that was purchased between 2014 and 2016.
Witness: My lord I disagree.
Hearing continues today.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak