Court orders CRIG to submit documents to Dr Opuni

An Accra High Court yesterday ordered the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), to submit documents to Dr. Stephen Opuni, a former Chief Executive of COCOBOD, and another, to enable them to defend themselves.

Lawyer for Seidu Agongo, who is standing trial together with Dr. Opuni, in a case of alleged financial malfeasance of GH¢217 million in a fertiliser deal, said the documents when furnished by prosecution would help the court to ascertain the truth of the matter.

Consequently, Justice Clement Honyenugah, a Court of Appeal Judge, sitting with additional responsibility as a high court judge, directed CRIG to give a letter dated November 20, 2014, on the renewal for pesticides, fertilisers and spraying machines from January to December 2015, to accused.

Counsel for Agongo, Mr. Benson Nutsukpui, urged the court to order CRIG to add attachments to the letter and the handing over note of Dr. Gilbert John Anim Kwapong, a former Executive Director of CRIG.

The lawyer told the court that Dr. Kwapong’s handing-over note was a 14-page report on testing of agro-chemicals and spraying machines for use on cocoa farms in Ghana.

At cross-examination, witness maintained that no re-evaluation was carried on agro-chemicals by CRIG from 2014-2016.

Counsel, however, suggested to witness that there was evidence that re-evaluation had been conducted for renewal of Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser.

But, Dr. Arthur said per the recommendations of Prof. Dr. Bilal of Zeovita GMBH, manufacturing company of Lithovit, and two other professors of the University of Ghana, Nkansah and Owusu, Lithovit was mixed with water at the point of application to crops.

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 Division, 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.



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