Alleged COCOBOD financial loss: Scientists recommended fertilizer – Witness 

A witness in the case in which Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, a former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana COCOBOD, is standing trial for alleged procurement breaches and causing financial loss to the state in a fertilizer deal, yesterday told the Accra High Court that the  lithovit liquid fertilizer was recommended by a team of scientists.

Mr Charles Dodoo, a former Director of Finance at COCOBOD and a witness for Dr Opuni, said that there was no report of adverse effects of the use of lithovit liquid fertilizer by farmers.

The witness made these revelation during cross-examination conducted by Mr Nutifafa Nutsukpui, counsel for Mr Seidu Agongo, the Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, and second accused.

When asked if he remembered Dr Opuni’s salary when he was the CEO (whether it was GH₵25, 000 or not). Mr Dodoo told the court, presided over by Justice Clement Honyenugah that he could not remember.

However, Mr Dodoo explained that Dr Opuni’s Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contribution was capped at GH₵20,000.

Below was what transpired during cross-examination conducted by Mr Nutsukpui and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mrs Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa.

Q: Sir, do you know how much the first accused earned as a chief executive officer of COCOBOD?

A: No, my Lord

Q: Could it have been more than GH₵25,000 a month?

A : My Lord, it will be more than that.  I recollect that because I was paying his SSNIT at a cap of GH₵ 20,000 given by SSNIT.

Q : So, do I understand you to mean that his monthly SSNIT contribution at the time was GH₵20,000 ?

 A: My Lord, his contribution was on the cap of GH ₵20,000.

Q: You told this court that the codapec/ hitec units was made up of scientists.

A : Yes, my Lord

Q: And it is these scientists that determined the agrochemicals including fertilisers and their prices which COCOBOD must procure.

A : Yes, my Lord up to 2013/2014.

Q : These scientists are the only persons who will determine the suitability of any agrochemicals including fertilisers for use on cocoa.

A : Yes, my Lord, in conjunction with Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG).

Q: Now, this determination of the suitability of agrochemicals for use on cocoa is not made by the board or management of cocoa board. That is correct!

A : Yes, my lord

Q: While you served on the board between 2014 to 2016, the board had no reason to doubt the integrity of these scientists. Is that correct?

A : No, my Lord, the board had no reason to doubt the integrity of those scientists.

The case has been adjourned to April 25, for continuation of cross-examination by the prosecutor.

BY MALIK SULLEMANA

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