COCOBOD financial loss case: witness, counsel disagree on certificate for purchase of fertilisers

There was disagreement yesterday between a witness, Dr. Albert Arthur, who is testifying in the ongoing trial of former COCOBOD Chief Executive, and defence counsel, over re-evaluation of certificate for agro-chemicals for purchase of fertilisers, in 2015.

While Mr. Benson Nutsupui stated that the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) re-evaluated both the 2015 and 2016 certificates for agro-chemicals and spraying machines, the witness said that was not the case.

Dr. Arthur, a second prosecution witness, was testifying in the case, in which Dr. Stephen Opuni, former Cocobod boss, and Seidu Agongo, a businessman, are standing trial for allegedly causing financial loss of GH¢217 million to the state in a fertiliser deal.

Counsel suggested to Dr. Arthur that the 2016 report on re-evaluation of agro-chemicals was forwarded to COCOBOD in a letter addressed by CRIG.

But the witness, who is the former acting Head of Science Division at CRIG, said he had not seen the report.

Prosecuting, Mrs. Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), said that on May 15, 2015, COCOBOD took a sample of “Lithovit Fertiliser” to the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana 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, upon which a final report recommended Lithovit to be applied to mature cocoa even though no field test had been conducted on the cocoa.

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 submitted that upon the direction of the former COCOBOD boss, no laboratory tests were conducted for the renewal of certificate for the use of Lithovit on cocoa.

Mrs. Obuobisa said though Agricult Ghana Limited did not apply for the renewal of certificate as required, its certificate was renewed on the instructions of Dr.Opuni.

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 state 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.

BY MALIK SULLEMANA

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