Farmers drank Lithovit liquid fertiliser – Witness tells court

Dr Yaw Adu­Ampomah, third prosecution witness in the trial of Dr Stephen Opuni, the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), and one other on Thursday, mentioned names of farmers, who according to him drank Lithovit liquid fertiliser.

They are Nana Obeng Akrofi, the Eastern Regional Chief Farmer of the Cocoa, Coffee and Shea Farmers Association of Ghana, and one Emmanuel Obeng.

Dr Adu­Ampomah was answering questions in a further cross­examination by Mr Nutifafa Nutsukpui, counsel for Seidu Agongo, the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, who is the second accused in the trial in Accra, on Thursday.

The counsel pointed to the witness that there was no user complaint on lithovit fertiliser from any unit or divisions of COCOBOD, but the witness disagreed.

Dr Adu­Ampomah said nobody had complained from the units and the division, because for COCOBOD to ascertain the efficacy of a fertiliser, CRIG or Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) will have to test, but since CRIG was implicated the samples were sent to GSA.

Counsel told witness that Nana Akrofi only made a complaint in a statement to Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) about the ineffectiveness of the fertiliser, but the witness disagreed.

Mr Nutsukpui said Nana Akrofi only complained per his statement that he mainly harvest 50 bags of cocoa from a 10­acre farm, but having applied the Lithovit fertiliser, he only harvested 52 bags, as such he did not find the fertiliser effective as the COCOBOD extension officers claimed, but the witness disagreed.

The witness said Nana Akrofi came to me to complain that the Lithovit fertiliser was so ineffective and that when they go to the farm and there was no water, they could drink it, hence he directed them to report to EOCO.

The counsel suggested to the witness that none of these individuals told him they drank the lithovit liquid fertiliser, but the witness disagreed, saying that was why he directed them to EOCO.

Mr Nutsukpui asked the witness whether from his experience as a scientist, urea could be drank, and he answered in the negative.

He said the report from Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) finds 14 per cent of urea in the Lithovit EOCO submitted for testing and he agreed.

Mr Nutsukpui asked the witness whether urea generate an offensive smell, but the witness said urea smells like urine.

“So, you want the court to believe that farmers drink something that smells like urine,” counsel asked, and the witness said “that was what l was told, hence the direction to EOCO”.

Mr Nutsukpui asked whether he (witness) thought EOCO has the power to judge, that was why he directed the farmers there, but the witness said: “l thought EOCO will help investigate with appropriate authorities, hence I directed them there”.

The counsel asked whether he was aware farmers were full of praise for the use of Lithovit, captured in the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) report on field visits, but the witness answered in the negative.

The case has been adjourned to February 11 for continuation.

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 acting in contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

This has to do with fertilisers acquired by COCOBOD during the tenure of Dr Opuni as Chief Executive Officer of the state entity

They have pleaded not guilty and have been granted a GH¢300,000.00 each self­recognisance bail by the court. -GNA

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