Alleged COCOBOD GH¢271.3m financial loss case adjourned to Jan 17

The case of alleged procurement breaches in the purchase of fertiliser, when Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, was the former Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, could not be heard yesterday for technical difficulties.

The system used for conducting and recording proceedings at the Accra High Court had broken down.

However, the case involving alleged GH¢271.3 million financial loss to the state, has been adjourned to Monday, January 17.

The presiding judge, Justice Clemence Honyenugah told prosecutors and defence counsel when the case was called that “there is a problem and the whole system is down and I don’t know when it might be on for us to work so it has to be adjourned”.

He said “It is nobody’s fault and we don’t know when it will be on so having heard about the enormity of the problem, we have to come next Monday and let’s see how far things will go.”

Dr Opuni and Seidu Agongo, the Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, a fertiliser manufacturing company, had pleaded not guilty to charges of contravention of Public Procurement Act, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officer, defrauding by false pretences and manufacturing fertiliser without registration.

Meanwhile, Mr Samuel Kojo, lawyer for Dr Opuni, and Mr Nutifafa Nutsukpui, lawyer for Mr Agongo, told the court that they filed separate motions at the Supreme Court.

Mr Kojo told the court that he filed a certiorari and prohibition both of which were seeking the apex court to quash a ruling of the trial court and stop the judge from hearing the case.

He reminded the court that once the two motions had been filed, the High Court must halt proceedings until the final determination of the motions by the Supreme Court.

But, Mrs Evelyn Keelson, a Chief State Attorney, disagreed with Mr Kojo, insisting that proceedings could be conducted.

In March 2018, the Attorney-General charged Dr Opuni and Agongo with 27 counts for allegedly engaging in illegalities that caused financial loss of GH¢271.3 million to the state and led to the distribution of sub-standard fertiliser to cocoa farmers.

Agongo is alleged to have used fraudulent means to sell sub-standard fertiliser to COCOBOD for onward distribution to cocoa farmers, while Dr Opuni is accused of facilitating the act by not allowing Agongo’s products to be tested and certified, as required by law.

The two are currently on bail in the sum of GH¢300,000 each.

BY MALIK SULLEMANA

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