As Cross-Examination Heats Up
There was drama in court on Wednesday, when a special adviser to the Minister of Agriculture on Cocoa Affairs, fumbled for greater part of his cross-examination, as he tried strenuously without much success to remember names of American NGOs he claimed he worked with between 2014 and 2016.
At a point, Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah, mentioned an NGO by name Rainfall Alliance, which he claimed works with farmers in the Cocoa sector, but independent checks by The Herald, have revealed that the said institution, doesn’t exist in the sector.
Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah, under cross-examination, had also missed his year of retirement from COCOBOD, which is 2012 and the fact that he was given a year’s contract by the John Mahama government which made him stay in office until sometime 2013.
The Special Adviser who is the state’s third prosecution witness in the case involving former Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) CEO, Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni and businessman, Seidu Agongo, several times threw the courtroom into a state of confusion, when the lawyer for Dr. Opuni, Samuel Codjoe, started his cross-examination on Wednesday.
Dr. Adu-Ampomah, a retired Deputy CEO of the COCOBOD, was brought from statutory retirement, and reappointed to his former position by the Akufo-Addo government until recently.
Dr. Opuni and Alhaji Agongo’s lawyers, are grilling him on his knowledge of the procurement processes, his membership of the Akufo-Addo transition team in 2017, a probed he chaired on the activities of Dr. Opuni, upon his reappointment to COCOBOD, nearly four years after leaving office, and many other issues.
He is also expected to respond to some inconsistencies in the accounts of two other prosecution witnesses; former head of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), Dr. Franklin Manu Amoahand a soil scientist also at CRIG, Dr. Alfred Arthur.
In his evidence in chief, Dr. Yaw Adu Ampomah, had mentioned that after he retired from COCOBOD in 2013, he did some work for some American and Dutch NGOs in terms of consultancy and facilitation.
But in court on Wednesday, he found it difficult to remember the American NGOs he said he worked with between 2014 and 2016.
When pressed by the lawyer, he explained that he worked with Solidaridad, which is a Dutch NGO and several American NGOs, which he said he could not remember.
Dissatisfied with the response, Mr Codjoe kept pushing until Dr. Adu Ampomah, started fumbling forcing the judge, Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Court of Appeal Judge, sitting in as an additional high court Judge to intervene on several occasions to enable the recorders in court make sense of Dr. Ampomah’s submissions.
Mr Codjoe put it to Dr. Adu Ampomah that if, indeed, he worked for Dutch and American NGOs, he would definitely have known all their names forcing him to mention one Rainfall Alliance, but when asked if that was an American or Dutch NGO, he shockingly said he could not readily tell.
The focus of the cross-examination then shifted to Dr. Adu-Ampomah’s knowledge of Dr. Opuni.
It is recalled that in his witness statement, Dr. Adu-Ampomah, said he first met Dr. Opuni somewhere between 2009 and 2013, when he was the deputy chief executive of COCOBOD in-charge of Agronomy and Quality Control (A&QC).
Mr. Codjoe, however, challenged that claim as he maintained that the first time Dr. Adu Ampomah and Dr. Opuni met was in 2016, at a wedding ceremony, adding that Dr. Adu Ampomah, had made up that evidence of meeting Dr. Opuni only to create the impression that he had nothing against him and not necessarily because it was the truth.
The former Deputy Chief Executive of COCOBOD is the third witness in the trial of Dr. Opuni, a former CEO of COCOBOD and businessman SeiduA gongo, who have been accused of causing financial loss to the state among other charges.
At the beginning of the cross-examination, Dr. Adu-Ampomah, was asked by Samuel Cudjoe, lawyer for Dr. Opuni, whether he stood by his submission at his evidence in chief that he worked for Dutch and American NGOs, he answered in affirmative.
When asked to name them, after minutes of back and forth, he could only mention Solidaridad, a Netherlands-based international organization headquartered in Utrecht.
For close to an hour, the hitherto eloquent Dr. Adu-Ampomah, became elusive as he was pressured by Lawyer Cudjoe for names of other companies he worked with.
“So then I take it that you don’t know the name of the American company you worked with,” the counsel asserted.
“My Lord in my statement I said there are several of them so I would not know,” he responded.
The counsel, who appeared amazed by Dr. Adu-Ampomah’s inability to mention the name of the American organization, asked the research scientist if he knew the full meaning of NGO, which he rightly gave as non-governmental organization.
Pointing out that NGOs are corporate organizations, lawyer Cudjoe put it to Dr. Adu-Ampomah that if he had worked for an American and Dutch companies he would have definitely know their names.
“My Lord I bound them together so if you like, I will mention more. One of them is Rainfall Alliance [sic] ,” Dr. Adu-Ampomah remembered. A search rather revealed that the NGO’s name is Rainforest Alliance based in the United States of America.
Find excerpts of the proceedings below
Q: So DrAmpomah, you informed this court that you were working for American and Dutch NGOs. Do you still maintain that?
Ans: yes, my Lord
Q: What is the name of the American NGOs you talked of.
Ans: These NGOs were linked to America department of agriculture and they were helping Ghanaian local company to help local farmers to improve their livelihood.
Q: Dr. Can you give me the names of the American NGOs you were working for?
Ans: The descriptions I said is that these local companies will put up a proposal sourcing for funds and when they find a funding agency, their proposal is brought to me to review and recommend, and one of the companies which has been funded through these means is cocoa Abrabo pa
Q: So then I take it that you don’t know the name of the American company you worked with.
Ans: My Lord in my statement I said there are several of them so I would not know.
Q: So with the Dutch company you know the name that is Solidaridad but with the American NGO you don’t know.
Ans: No, what I said is that the NGO I was talking about were mainly the Dutch ones and because the funds were coming from different sources that is why I said American NGO because some of the funds were coming from America
Q: So it is true that as you sit here you can mention your employers.
Ans: What I meant was that the funds were coming from [different sources] so there were no specific American NGO
Q: Dr. as you sit here, you are a very intelligence man, right?
Q: What is the full meaning of NGO?
Ans: Non-Governmental Organization
Q: You know all NGOs are corporate organizations?
Ans: Yes my Lord
Q: So you know all NGOs have names because they operate in a capacity.
Ans: Yes my Lord
Q: I’m putting to you that if you have worked for American and Dutch companies you would have definitely know their names.
Ans: My Lord, I bound them together so if you like, I will mention more. One of them is Rainfall Alliance [sic].
Q: Is it an American company?
Ans: I can’t tell you off hand
Q: You said the NGOs employed you to work on the effect of the lives of cocoa farmers at cocoa growing areas?
Ans: Is to advise them on how to improve their lives.
The case continues on Tuesday May 28 in the afternoon.