Opuni’s lawyer, witness ‘clash’ over form of fertilizer
The form of the fertiliser which is the subject of the trial of a former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, has become the major bone of contention in the trial.
It is the case of the Attorney-General (A-G) that Dr Opuni purchased liquid Lithovit Foliar Fertiliser (LFF) to be used on cocoa, although it was never tested by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), a division of COCOBOD mandated with the testing of all fertilisers and machinery for the cocoa sector.
According to the A-G, the fertiliser which was tested by CRIG was LFF in powdery form and not liquid form.
Lawyers for Dr Opuni have, however, disputed the claims of the A-G, insisting that the LFF that CRIG tested was in a liquid form and not powdery.
In March, 2018, the Attorney-General (A-G) charged Dr Opuni, who was the CEO of COCOBOD from November 2013 to January 12, 2018, and a businessman, Seidu Agongo, for allegedly causing financial loss of Gh?271.3million to the state.
The two were slapped with 27 charges for allegedly engaging in illegalities in the a series of fertiliser transactions which led to the procurement and distribution of substandard fertiliser to farmers.
Dr Opuni and Agongo have, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges and have been granted bail in the sum of Gh?300,000 each by the Accra High Court.
Powdery or liquid fertiliser?
During Wednesday’s cross-examination of the first prosecution witness, Dr Franklin Manu Amoah, counsel for Dr Opuni, Mr Samuel Cudjoe, sought to make a strong case that CRIG indeed tested liquid LFF and not a powdery LFF.
Counsel argued that it was only Dr Amoah who claims that the LFF tested was in powdery form.
He said other scientists at CRIG such as Mr A.A. Afrifa , a former head of the Soil Science Department at CRIG, and Dr Anim Kwapong, a former head of CRIG, had maintained that the LFF tested was in liquid form.
In response, Dr Amoah refuted that CRIG tested liquid LFF, and explained that in 2013, COCOBOD forwarded an LFF in powdery form which was from Germany to CRIG for testing.
He insisted that it was that powdery form of LFF that CRIG recommended to COCOBOD for purchase and not the liquid LFF that COCOBOD purchased from Agongo’s company, Agricult Ghana Limited.
The discussion then shifted to the certificate that CRIG issued for the LFF that it recommended to COCOBOD.
Below are excerpts of the cross-examination.
Samuel Cudjoe: Have you issued any certificate for Lithovit Foliar Fertiliser?
Dr Amoah: Yes, the LFF I issued the certificate for was in powdery form and it was from Germany with the patent R .We recommended that it should be applied at a rate of 50g in 11 litres. Liquid fertiliser can never be measured in grams. If it was liquid it would have been measured in volumes.
Samuel Cudjoe: So the certificate is for powdery Lithovit Foliar fertilizer?
Dr Amoah: Yes my Lord.
Samuel Cudjoe: Read wat is on the certificate
Dr Amoah read the certificate which shows that CRIG had recommended to COCOBOD an LFF. The certificate showed the various components of the LFF.
Samuel Cudjoe: Show me where on the certificate that shows that the Lithovit Foliar Fertiliser was powdery?
Dr Amoah explained that the certificate only showed the source and the chemical components of the LFF, and that it was the test report that showed the form of the LFF.
“The test report showed that the Lithovit foliar fertiliser was a fine greyish powder,’’ he said.