The state’s third prosecution witness in the trial of former COCOBOD boss, Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman, Seidu Agongo, has been cited for perjury.
The Accra High Court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenugah, an Appeal Court Judge, sitting as an additional High Court Judge, has set January 9, 2020 to hear the perjury case, brought against Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah, who is Advisor to Agric Minister, Owusu Afriyie Akoto, on Cocoa Affairs .
Perjury, is a criminal offence. It means willfully telling an untruth or making a misrepresentation under oath.
People who commit perjury, disrupt the legitimate discovery of the truth. In this regard, people who commit perjury may face a variety of severe legal ramifications, if they are convicted. Some of these legal consequences may, include having to spend time in jail, probation, or paying fines to the court.
Dr. Adu-Ampomah, has been testifying against Dr. Opuni, as well as Seidu Agongo and his company, Agricult Ghana Limited, who are standing trial for causing financial loss of over GH¢271 million to the state.They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 each self-recognisance bail.
The witness who is a former deputy chief executive officer at COCOBOD in charge of agronomy and quality control, had in his evidence-in-chief, in May 2019, told the court the procurement practice at COCOBOD for fertilizers, had always been open tender.
This, he said, were done through advertisement in the papers where product required is specified, and companies whose products have been tested and certified by CRIG that are interested are required to support their bid with documents.
Whilst the case developed, this position was deflated as counsel for the first accused, Dr. Opuni, produced at least 18 contract documents sole-sourced at COCOBOD under the signature of the witness.
Nonetheless, Dr. Adu-Ampomah, stuck to his gun, as he maintained in court that COCOBOD, does competitive tender as well, as conceding that sole-sourcing is also used to procure fertilizers at COCOBOD.
“In some instances adverts are placed in the papers. In some other times due to the peculiar nature of some chemicals they are not but in general terms you are supposed to do. But sometimes if it is explained to PPA it could be allowed without placing adverts in the papers,” the Daily Guide newspaper quoted him as saying on its website in July.
The court had initially fixed December 17 for Samuel Cudjoe, the lawyer for Dr. Opuni, to move the motion for the perjury, however, due to the indisposition of counsel for Seidu Agongo who was to cross-exam the witness right after the motion for the perjury had been moved, counsel involved in the case “concerted” with the judge for a new date.
The Attorney General’s witness had beaten a hasty retreat in court conceding to the fact that COCOBOD, never advertised to solicit bids from the public in the purchase of fertilizers.
His new position was in sharp contrast with his emphatic statement to court during his testimony that COCOBOD engages in competitive bidding throughout his testimony against former COCOBOD boss and businessman, Seidu Agongo.
Dr. Adu-Ampomah, had in his evidence-in-chief, told the court that the procurement practice at COCOBOD, had always been through competitive tender, slamming claims by counsel for the accused that sole-sourcing was rather the normal practice.
At one of the proceedings he had promised to produce newspapers in which some of these advertisements were published.
But later under cross-examination, Dr. Adu-Ampomah, crumbled on his no-sole-source evidence after counsel for Dr. Opuni, Samuel Cudjoe, bombarded him with several documents exposing the witness of personally participating in procurement processes at COCOBOD through sole-sourcing even before and after the tenure of the first accused.
Even after admitting to sole-sourcing, the witness insisted that COCOBOD, also advertised to get companies to supply it with fertilizers.
“Dr. Adu-Ampomah, when you said before purchases are made for fertilizer, it has to be advertised and specifying the product they required, you were not being truthful,” Samuel Cudjoe told him in May this year.
“My Lord I was being truthful,” he answered.
Still, under cross-examination, the Daily Guide newspaper in July also quoted Dr. Adu-Ampomah maintaining in court that “…in some instances adverts are placed in the papers. In some other times due to the peculiar nature of some chemicals, they are not but in general terms, you are supposed to do. But sometimes if it is explained to PPA it could be allowed without placing adverts in the papers”.
After a long break, proceedings resumed on November 7, 2019, with the witness, reiterating his stance on procurement of fertilizers through advertisement in the dailies.
When Samuel Cudjoe, reminded him that even the Procurement Manager at COCOBOD and others have told the police that all the fertilizers purchased by COCOBOD are sole-sourced and not advertised, Dr. Adu-Ampomah retorted, “my Lord that is not true. What pertains is what I just stated, that is depending on the circumstance it could be advertised or sole-sourced or known companies could be invited or restrictive tendering can be made.”
“I am putting it to you that in the entire life of COCOBOD, there has never been any occasion that the general public has been invited to bid for fertilizers by way of advertisement. It has never happened in any newspaper in Ghana,” counsel for Dr. Opuni asserted.
Dr. Adu-Ampomah tried to conveniently dodge the question by giving inconsequential and incoherent history about the prevailing circumstance when COCOBOD started purchasing fertilizers in the early 2000s but was stopped in his track by the trial judge, Justice Honyenugah, who reminded him of the question asked by the counsel.
Sensing that he could be asked by the court to produce evidence of any advertisement done in the past by COCOBOD in buying fertilizers, the witness recoiled and said “for fertilizers, yes my lord”, admitting that no advertisement was ever done. This has since gotten him cited for perjury.