Gov’t Terminates Prosecution Witness’ Contract At COCOBOD

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The Ghana Cocoa Board this week terminated the contract given to Dr. Franklin Manu Amoah, the Executive Director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) and sent him home for the second time after his August 2015 retirement at age 60.

He is one of the prosecution witnesses in the ongoing trial of the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOCOD, Dr. Stephen Opuni, together with businessman, Siedu Agongo, CEO of the fertilizer company, Agricult Ghana Limited.

Dr.  Amoah, who hails from Akyem-Bieni in the Eastern Region, was brought back from his two-year statutory retirement by the Akufo-Addo government and made the Executive Director of CRIG for the second time.

 Ahead of the contract, he had served on the Akufo-Addo side of the Transition Team of COCOBOD after the December 2016 presidential election in which the New Patriotic Party (NPP) emerged victorious.

 In January 2017, upon assumption of office by Akufo-Addo, the substantive boss of CRIG, one Dr. Gilbert Kwarpong, was removed from his position, and Dr. Amoah, made to replace him.

 Dr. Amoah, disclosed the contract given him by the government, while under cross-examination by Dr. Opuni’s lawyer; Samuel Cudjoe, some three weeks ago.

 It is not clear, what accounted for his sudden termination and his removal from CRIG.   

  But The Herald’s checks, at COCOBOD, has revealed that the Deputy-Chief Executive in-charge of Agronomy and Quality Control, is also over aged.

 Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah, is still at post at age 66.

He had retired in June 2012 at age 60, but got a year’s extension which kept him in office till June 2013.

Just like, Dr. Amoah, Dr. Adu-Ampomah, from Akyem-Tafo, was also brought back to COCOBOD upon assumption of office by the Akufo-Addo government.  

 At the last court session, Dr. Amoah, testified that the CRIG, recommended the use of Agricut Lithovit foliar on matured cocoa to COCOBOD.

He also admitted authoring and signing the scientific report that led COCOBOD to purchase the fertilizer called, Agricut Lithovit.

Dr. Amoah, 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 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 and Joyce Bawa Mutari; Spokesperson for ex-President John Mahama

 

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