Case Against Opuni Takes Nosedive

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COCOBOD Bought What CRIG Recommended –A-G’s Witness

A first prosecution witness in the trial of Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, has testified that the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), recommended the use of Agricut Lithovit foliar on matured cocoa to COCOBOD.

A retired Executive Director of Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, Dr. Franklin Manu Amoah, who was brought back to CRIG three years after his retirement, admitted authoring and signing the scientific report that led COCOBOD to purchase the fertilizer called, Agricut Lithovit.

Dr. Amoah, who served as a member of the Akufo-Addo Transition Team ahead of his reappointment at CRIG, also admitted issuing certificates on the fertilizer to Agricut as a prove of  its efficacy, leading to its procurement by the COCOBOD.

Dr. Amoah, is the first prosecution witness in the ongoing criminal trial of Dr. Opuni and businessman, Seidu Agongo, by the Akufo-Addo government. The two insist they did nothing wrong to warrant their prosecution.

In the case Dr. Opuni, his party the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has described the trial as a political witch-hunt by the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP).

During the cross examination, Dr. Opuni’s lawyer, Samuel Cudjoe, asked the witness; “Your recommendation was based on the fact that Lithovit fertilizer had the same qualities as Nutrismart, Vegemax and so you approved it. Do you agree that Dr Opuni only affirmed your research finding and nothing else?”

The witness, in his response to the above question told the court Dr. Opuni affirmed the research findings but added that former COCOBOD CEO could “have also made some recommendations”.

Below are excerpts of the cross-examination

Question by lawyer: This letter was affirming your recommendation right?

Answer by witness: Yes my Lord Lawyer: Your recommendation was based on the fact that Lithovit fertilizer had the same qualities as Nutrismart, Vegemax and so you approved it. So do you agree that Dr. Opuni only affirmed your research finding and nothing else?

Witness: Yes but he could have also made recommendations.

Lawyer: Dr. Amoah do you doubt your own competence as Agronomist?

Witness: No but it is the sole prerogative of Cocobod to approve or disapprove what we do. Lawyer: Dr Amoah, but what you recommended after testing is what Cocobod approved?

Witness: Yes.

Dr Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo are facing 27 charges of willfully causing financial loss of GH¢217million to the state, through three separate fertiliser supply contracts between 2014 and 2016.

The contracts were GH¢43.1 million (2013/2014 cocoa farming season), GH¢75.3 million (2014/2015 cocoa farming season) and GH¢98.9 million (2015/2016 cocoa farming season) totaling GH¢217 million through sole-sourcing, the state claimed, adding that procurement procedures for sole-sourcing were not followed.

Cross-examination resumes on October 8, 2018 after the legal vacation.

Present in court were Mr. Kojo Bonsu former Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) boss, Former National Health Insurance Authority [NHIA] Chief Executive Officer, Sylvester Mensah, former Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Barbara Serwaa Asamoah, Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare: Minister of Tourism, Culture & Creative Arts in the Mahama administration.

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