COCOBOD financial loss case: Witness says some purchases are sole sourced

Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, the third prosecution witness in the trial involving Dr Stephen Opuni, former COCOBOD Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and one Seidu Agongo, at the Accra High Court, has said it is not true that COCOBOD only purchases agro-chemicals, fertilisers, fungicides and insecticides through sole or single sourcing.

Dr Adu-Ampomah, the Special Advisor in charge of Cocoa Affairs to the Minister of Food and Agriculture, said some of the purchases were sole sourced, while others were through competitive bidding, where an entity tendering committee negotiated on behalf of COCOBOD.

The prosecution witness, who was cross-examined by Mr Samuel Cudjoe, counsel for Dr Opuni, said an entity tender committee reviewed the application and the committee was chaired by the CEO with members from other user departments, such as Procurement and legal.

Mr Cudjoe pointed out to the witness that in his evidence in chief, he told the court that before purchases were made for fertiliser, it had to be done by advertising, bidding and tender, but the witness disagreed.

Defence counsel asked the witness what his position was as at June 2011, at COCOBOD, of which the witness indicated that he was then Deputy Chief Executive Officer in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control.

Mr Cudjoe asked the witness whether as the Deputy CEO, he dealt with the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) between 2009 and 2013, of which the witness said that he sometimes dealt with them.

Defence counsel asked whether as the Deputy CEO, letters concerning agro-chemicals and fertilisers, which came to the CEO of COCOBOD was always copied to him, of which Dr Adu-Ampomah answered in the affirmative.

Dr Opuni’s lawyer tendered in as evidence letters with different dates through the witness, which were written by the witness to the PPA, which indicated a sole or single sourcing for the purchase of fertiliser, agro-chemical, insecticides and fungicides, which was admitted by the court.

Mr Cudjoe presented an approval letter dated May 10, from the PPA for the purchase of 100, 000 bags of Asase fertiliser from Chemico Limited at the cost of $3.3 million, of which the witness agreed to that assertion.

Counsel again presented another letter dated 29th May, 2018, written by the witness to the PPA, asking to procure fertilisers, insecticides and fungicides by a sole-sourcing, which was presented to the court, which the witness agreed that the letter dated June 8, 2018 was approval letter from PPA.

Mr Cudjoe reminded Dr Adu-Ampomah that on March 27, 2018, he wrote to the PPA for permission to purchase fertilisers ($ 21 million), insecticides ($35.22 million) and fungicides ($34.66 million), which the witness agreed he did.

Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 each self-recognisance bail.

The case has been adjourned to Tuesday, June 4 for further continuation. – GNA

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