Fresh evidence has emerged about the nefarious activities of the second prosecution witness, Dr Alfred Arthur, which got him suspended as a scientist at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) of COCOBOD.
The state’s witness, who is a soil scientist, is alleged to have circumvented the required procedure in testing fertilizer, and misleading his superior about the certification of a product by the name Cocoa Nti manufactured by Morocco-based OCP Group.
His conduct led to the current Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, buying some 100,000 bags of the “Cocoa Nti” worth US$3.5 million, based on the controversial report.
His suspension, follows an ad-hoc committee constituted by CRIG to probe the fertilizer in question, and chaired by the Deputy Executive Director in Charge of Cocoa, Rev. Father Dr E.O.K. Oddoye in 2016, which found Dr Arthur guilty together with one Alex Afrifa.
Dr Arthur in 2013, travelled with the local suppliers of ‘Cocoa Nti’ granular fertilizer; Enepa Ventures Ltd to visit the Morocco-based manufacturers of the product and upon his return, he quickly prepared a report on the product without a proper scientific test on it.
Interestingly, when COCOBOD received the scientific report on Cocoa Nti fertilizer prepared by Dr Arthur without the knowledge of his bosses, a letter dated March 2, 2018, was written to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) on March 5, 2018, to approve the purchase of the fertilizer through sole-sourcing.
The COCOBOD CEO, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, went ahead to purchase some 100,000 bags of the “Cocoa Nti” worth US$3.5 million, using the controversial report by Dr Arthur and the team.
The report of the committee which suspended Dr Alfred Arthur, has already been tendered in evidence at the ongoing trial of former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo.
The Executive Director of CRIG at the time of the incident, Dr Gilbert Anim Kwapong yesterday, Thursday, December 7, 2023, confirmed to the High Court in Accra that he signed the report of the committee and forwarded the same to the Deputy Chief Executive Agronomy and Quality Control at COCOBOD.
Dr Anin Kwapong, who was answering questions under cross-examination by lawyer Benson Nutsukpui, the lead counsel for Alhaji Agongo, said CRIG found the response of Dr. Arthur to the “queries untenable”.
“Exhibit 17A, the committee found as a fact that there is no delegation of OCP (Morocco, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Enepa Ventures) paid a visit to COCOBOD to submit a fertilizer sampling for Cocoa Nti, that’s true,” he was asked, and he answered, “My Lord, that is correct”.
He also said the committee “found as a fact”, that although Dr Arthur visited Morocco at the invitation of OCP and Enepa ventures, there was no evidence of COCOBOD officially requesting CRIG to test any fertilizer formulation.
The committee, he said, also found that the payment for the testing of Cocoa Nti was done in March 2016.
“Sir when you were being interrogated by police you told them that the two errant scientists were dealt with by the CTCM (Committee for Testing of Chemicals and Machines),” Lawyer Benson Nutsukpui asked the witness.
“It was the directorate that dealt with the two errant scientists,” he answered.
The court heard that after the investigation, Dr Alfred Arthur was transferred from CRIG headquarters at Tafo to one of CRIG’s substations at Bunso.
He was however brought back to CRIG at Tafo in January 2017 as acting head of the soil department of CRIG, after Dr Franklin Manu Amoah, the first prosecution witness, was sent back to CRIG as the Executive Director following the transfer of Dr Anim Kwapong to COCOBOD headquarters without any designation.
Dr Kwapong was later transferred to the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of COCOBOD where he retired as the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation of CODAPEC/HiTECH on 11th December 2022.