Crime

COCOBOD financial loss case: Agongo lawyers file motion to stay proceedings

Lawyers for Seidu Agongo, the Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, have headed for the Court of Appeal to challenge the ruling of an Accra high court of February 25 that rejected a document they intended to tender.

Consequently, the lawyers have filed a motion for stay of proceedings before the court, pending the determination of the interlocutory appeal by the Court of Appeal.

The document, which was not admitted into evidence, was a report by a committee set up by the Cocoa Research Institute (CRIG) and the Cocoa Extension Division (CHED) to investigate the disappearance of a document requested by Agongo.

Mr Agongo, who is standing trial together with Dr Stephen Opuni, a former Chief Executive of Ghana COCOBOD for allegedly causing GH¢217 million financial loss to the state, had pleaded not guilty to all the charges preferred against them.

The court, presided by Justice Clemence Honyenugah rejected the document Mr Benson Nutsupkui wanted to tender through Dr Alfred Arthur, a second prosecution witness in the case on February 25, 2019.

Mrs Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), contended that the committee’s report had nothing to do with the trial neither was the witness invited to appear before the committee or had anything to do with the committee’s work.

In response, Mr Nutsukpui argued that the report came about due to the court’s order and, therefore, should be admitted into evidence.

Justice Honyenugah rejected the argument of Mr Nutsupkui and held that the right procedure was for counsel to apply for an order from the court to invite the authors of the report, who were the members of the committee to appear before the court.

Counsel filed an appeal to challenge the ruling of the high court.

Mrs Obuobisa wanted proceedings to go on yesterday, and said prosecution has not been served with the motion for stay of proceedings.

But, Mr Nutsupkui argued that when a motion on notice for stay of proceedings was pending, it ought to be determined before the proceedings proceed.  

On December 3, 2018, the court ordered CRIG and CHED to make available documents Agongo requested for to enable him to defend his case.  

The facts according to the prosecution are that, on May 15, 2015, COCOBOD took a sample of Lithovit fertiliser to CRIG for testing and certification.

She said a draft report on the “effect” of Lithovit on cocoa seedlings was submitted to the head of Soil Science Division, upon which a final report recommended Lithovit to be applied to mature cocoa even though no field test had been conducted on the product.

Mrs Obuobisa revealed that Dr Opuni upon assumption of office as the Chief Executive of COCOBOD, directed contrary to established policy and standard practice that, the period for testing which takes six months be shortened.

She said on February 19, 2014, Dr Opuni applied to the Public Procurement Authority for Agricult Limited to be single sourced to procure 700,000 litres of Lithovit foliar fertiliser although conditions for single source had not been satisfied.

In addition, Dr Opuni was alleged to have stated the price for the 700,000 litres at $19,250,000(GH¢43,120,000) though the substance sent for testing was in powdery form not liquid.

The case has been adjourned to March 13, 2019.

BY MALIK SULLEMANA 

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