CRIG scientist testifies in COCOBOD GH¢217m financial loss case

 A witness, Mr Jerome Agbesi Dogbatse, yester­day told the Accra High Court that scientists tested and completed work on lithovit fer­tiliser before he joined the Ghana COCOBOD, on November 4, 2013.

He was giving testimony in the case, in which Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni is being pros­ecuted together with Seidu­Agongo, the Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, a fertiliser manufacturing company, for alleged procurement breach­es and supplying substandard fertiliser.

The witness was answering questions under cross examina­tion conducted by Mr Benson Nutsukpui, counsel for the second accused, Mr Agongo, and Agricult Ghana Limited.

Mr Dogbatse, a research scientist at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), told the court presided over by Justice Aboagye Tandoh that he (Dogba­tse) was invited by the Financial Forensic Unit of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and questioned about lithovit.

He said after the interroga­tion, the police took his written statement.

Mr Dogbatse told the court that he was also invited by a Committee of Cocoa chaired by Dr Adu Ampomah, the Deputy Chief Executive of Agronomy and Quality Control of COCO­BOD in 2017.

Mr Dogbate, who holds a Master’s Degree in Soil Science and currently a PhD student in Agriculture at the University of Ghana, Legon, said he told the Cocoa Committee that when he resumed work, he was taken to the nursery where some work had been done on lithovit.

 He said at the nursery, seedlings treated with different fertilisers, including lithovit, were leavy, while those that were un­treated were not doing well.

Dr Opuni and Agongo have been accused of causing GH¢217 million financial loss to the state through procurement breaches and supplying sub-standard fer­tiliser to COCOBOD.

The COCOBOD trial had dragged on for more than six years. Justice Clement Jackson Honyenugah, a retired Supreme Court Judge, was the first trial judge until he went on retire­ment.

The case docket was later as­signed to Justice Gyimah Boadi, who at the outset decided to con­duct fresh trial because of what he considered as “suspicions and allegations” from the parties concerned.

Justice Boadi was subse­quently transferred and the case was assigned to Justice Aboagye Tandoh.

Before then, the Attor­ney-General and Minister of Justice, Godred Yeboah Dame, appealed the decision of Justice Boadi to conduct fresh trial and later in a ruling, a three-member panel of judges overturned the decision to start the trial afresh.


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