General News of Sunday, 18 March 2018
Due process must be followed vis-à-vis the prosecution of former CEO of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Opuni, and private businessman Seidu Agongo, who, together with AgriCult Company Limited, have been slapped with 27 charges of causing financial loss to the state, Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Abdul-Malik Kweku Baako Jr., has said.
Describing Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo as “nice” people, Mr Baako urged both sides of the political divide to remain calm as the matter is dealt with in a court of competent jurisdiction.
The Attorney General’s office argues that three accused persons willfully caused financial loss of GHS217 to the state, through three separate fertiliser 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) totaling 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 state claims the fertilisers were manufactured without registration, thereby, flouting the Plants and Fertiliser Act 2010.
Dr Opuni, the state alleges, also took a bribe of GHS25,000 from Mr Agongo in October 2014 to facilitate the award of one of the contracts by misrepresenting facts to the Public Procurement Authority.
The state also said the 2014 contract was awarded without any price quotation.
The National Organiser of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Kofi Adams, has already described the charges as a witch-hunt.
Speaking on Multi TVs news analysis programme Newsfile on Satruday, 17 March, Mr Baako told show host Samson Lardy Anyenini that: “Due process is due process; they’ll have their day in court, they’ll have their lawyers who’ll be there to defend them, we have seen instances where people have been sent to court and were freed; some were convicted and sentenced, so, I think that we should hold our fire”.
“…Those who are making noise about political witch-hunting, maybe they know something we do not know. Kofi Adams appears to be confident that the charges are frivolous and that Dr Opuni will come out victorious; then he should relax, he shouldn’t be unduly worried.
“I know Dr Opuni quite well, he’s a nice person, I like him; the young businessman, Seidu Agongo, he’s also a very nice person, I know him but we’re not talking about being nice, we are talking the law, so I think that we should just cool down and let the courts decide on this matter”, Mr Baako noted.