COCOBOD GH¢217m financial loss case adjourned to Jan 16

 

BY MALIK SULLEMANA

An Accra High Court has adjourned to January 16, 2019, the case, in which Dr. Stephen Opuni, a former Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) , and Seidu Agongo,  a businessman, have been accused of causing GH¢217 million financial loss to the state in a fertilizer deal.

The accused, who pleaded not guilty to 29 charges of conspiracy to commit crime, abetment of crime, contravention of Public Procurement Authority regulation, among others, had already been granted self-recognizance bail of GH¢300,000 each.

The prosecution filed documents, which Mr. Agongo requested to enable him to defend himself on December 16, 2018.

The documents include an invoice attached to a letter, dated November 20, 2014, an evaluation report of August 31, 2016 and report on analysis of two granular fertiliser samples submitted to the CEO of COCOBOD, on October 24,

At the hearing yesterday, Mr. Benson Nutsukpui, counsel for Agongo, the Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, told the court presided by Justice Clement Honyenugah that prosecution had served him the documents, except a letter dated October 21, 2014.

On December 16, 2018, the court heard that some documents Mr. Agongo requested had been tempered with.

Mr. Johannes Velba, the Director of Legal Service at COCOBOD, told the court that a committee had been set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding the tampering with and unavailability of documents.

It would be recalled that Mr. Nutsukpui  asked the court to order the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) to furnish his client with documents, which he said were germane to the matter.

The CRIG subsequently served the documents on defence, but Mr. Nutsukpui drew the attention of the court to ‘erasers, re-numbering and tempering with dates’ of filing on the documents.

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 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 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 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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