Dr. Stephen Opuni Nana Ato Arthur
Two separate documents before the Accra High Court and signed by two senior scientists at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), has separately mentioned Lithovit Fertilizer, as a liquid substance and not a powdered substance as claimed by Attorney-General in the criminal trial of Dr. Stephen Opuni and two others.
The first document is a certificate of renewal for Lithovit fertilizer dated 2014, in which Dr. Opoku Ameyaw, a senior agronomist and soil at CRIG, described the agrochemical as liquid.
The second document is also a certificate of renewal made in 2017, for the 2018 crop year and signed by Rev. Fr. Oddoye (PhD), Deputy Director of CRIG, which also described the Lithovit fertilizer as liquid.
Interestingly, Dr. Alfred Arthur, the state’s second prosecution witness in the Opuni-Agongo fertiliser case on Monday December 10, 2018, told the court that, while Dr. Opoku Ameyaw, rightly described the fertilizer as liquid, same cannot be said for Rev. Dr. Oddoye, because he is an animal scientist.
This comes as the prosecution and defence sides continue to debate the true state of the Lithovit Foliar fertilizer sample tested and approved by CRIG in 2013.
It is not clear, if the two senior scientists; Dr. Opoku Ameyaw and colleague, Rev. Dr. Oddoye, will be called as witnesses by the Attorney-General to speak to their reports, describing Lithovit fertilizer as liquid. Dr. Arthur is junior to both men.
The state’s witnesses namely; Dr. Amoah and Dr. Arthur, claim the sample they saw, was in powdery form, but the defence teams, insist the sample presented for testing was liquid.
Both Dr. Opuni and Seidu Agongo’s lawyers, have shown invoices, certificates, report police statements and caution statement to Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) that mentioned the fertilizer to be liquid.
Indeed, during cross-examination by Benson Nutsukpui, lead counsel for the 2nd and 3rd accused persons, Dr. Arthur, affirmed that the certificate of renewal issued by CRIG in 2017 was for Lithovit Liquid fertilizer.
He, however, added that it is possible Dr. Oddoye misconstrued the word “foliar” for “liquid” since he is an animal scientist and not a crop scientist.
Dr. Oddoye, also added that he would not know for a fact if the certificate of renewal issued in 2014 was for Lithovit Liquid fertiliser.
Here are excerpts of the cross-examination:
Q. What is the headline for the exhibit you have in hand?
A. Renewal of CRIG certificates for pesticides, fertilisers and spraying machines for 2018.
Q. What is the date of that exhibit?
A. 7th July 2017.
Q. It is true that those demands by exhibit 5 are normally accompanied by an invoice?
A. Yes my lord.
Q. What is the amount on that exhibit?
Q. I am suggesting to you that the invoice number of that demand is 0000000940.
A. I would not know that.
Q. That invoice is dated 4th of September 2017 from CRIG.
A. I would not know that my lord.
Q. Indeed, on the 6th of September 2017 by a CRIG receipt number 006516, the said amount was paid by Seidu Agongo and receipt acknowledged by CRIG.
A. I am not privy to this information.
Q. It is true that CRIG keeps the duplicates of all receipts issued by them?
A. Yes my lord. That should be the normal proceeding.
Q. I am suggesting to you that both the invoice and the official receipt emanating from CRIG in respect of exhibit 5, describe the payment to be for “Renewal of CRIG certificate for Lithovit liquid fertiliser 2018”
A. My lord, I am not privy to that information. However, the exhibit before me signed by Dr Oddoye described the product as Lithovit liquid fertiliser. Dr Oddoye being an animal scientist might have mistaken ‘foliar’ to be liquid in this case.
Q. I am putting it to you that the demand for 2014 together with the invoice dated 20th November 2014 for the same renewal purpose described the product as Lithovit liquid fertiliser.
A. My lord, I am not privy to this information.
Q. By the way, tell this court in 2017, what was Dr Oddoye’s position in CRIG.
A. Deputy Executive Director.
Q. Does CRIG deal in livestock?
A. Yes my lord.
Q. What animals do you deal in?
A. Cattle at Bole substation my lord.
Q. So Dr Oddoye was in charge of the cattle at Bole substation?
A. My lord, Dr Oddoye was involved in using what is considered to be waste or byproducts from cashew, cocoa or coffee, formulate them into animal feed and use them to feed the cattle, chicken, pigs and guinea fowl. So, he was at Bole for some time and transferred to Bunso, then in 2016, appointed CRIG director.
Q. I am putting it to you that it will be an insult to Dr Oddoye’s intelligence for you to sit in the box and say that when he was the deputy executive director of CRIG, he did not understand ‘foliar’.
A. That’s not correct my lord.
Dr Opuni, businessman Seidu Agongo and AgriCult Ghana Company Limited, are facing 27 charges of willfully causing financial loss of GHS217million to the state, through three separate fertilizer supply contracts between 2014 and 2016.
The contracts were GHS43.1million (2013/2014 cocoa farming season), GHS75.3million (2014/2015 cocoa farming season) and GHS98.9million (2015/2016 cocoa farming season) totalling GHS217million through sole-sourcing, the state claimed, adding that procurement procedures for sole-sourcing were not followed.
According to the charges, the consignments of Lithovit Foliar were produced locally, contrary to an agreement between COCOBOD and AgriCult Ghana Company Limited that it be sourced from Germany.
Also, the Attorney General claims the fertilisers were manufactured without registration, thereby, flouting the Plants and Fertilizer Act 2010.
The Court presided over by Justice Honyenugah adjourned the case to Monday, December 17, for the continuation of the hearing.