General News of Thursday, 22 March 2018
The family of former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr. Stephen Opuni, has said the contracts signed between the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), and Agricult Ghana Limited for the supply of fertilizer, were not carried out under his watch.
Dr. Opuni together with and one Seidu Agongo, CEO of Zeera Group of Companies and Agricult Ghana Limited, beneficiaries of a supposed fraudulent fertilizer supply contract worth GHc43,120,000, have been dragged to court by the Attorney General and slapped with 27 counts including a charge of causing financial loss to the state.
The family members however say the said contracts were signed on July 25, 2013, long before Dr. Opuni was appointed to head the institution.
Spokesperson for the family, John Adu Jack at a news conference, insisted that Opuni is only a victim of political persecution by the government.
“We are told that Dr. Opuni has colluded with Agricult Gh. Ltd. and one Mr. Agongo to defraud the State of huge sums of money through the supply of Lithovit fertilizer. It is inferred that Dr. Opuni had a personal interest in this transaction as though he brought the company from somewhere to apply for the contract. However, available documents suggest that the said application began way back 25th July, 2013, whilst Dr. Opuni was appointed to COCOBOD on 30th November, 2013. Where lies the collusion then?”
“Again, a man we are told was taking about GHC75,000 a month as salary is said to have taking a bribe of GHC25,000 for awarding a contract worth millions of cedis. How possible?”
He also said the allegations being made with regards to the Lithovit Fertilizer contract are “mind boggling.”
“We are being told that the said fertilizer is a poisonous chemical that can destroy cocoa trees. However, after applying the said fertilizer from 2014 and 2015 crop season, there was a yield of 966,444 metric tons of cocoa in 2016/2017 crop season, being the highest since 2010. Ladies and gentlemen of the press, I believe the farmers here are the best judges about the Lithovit liquid fertilizer which is even on sale on the markets. Why this fertilizer is not withdrawn from the market but still allowed to continue killing the rest of our cocoa trees as has been alleged, leaves much to be desired,” he added.
We believe that they are only trying to give the dog a bad name in order to hang it
Speaking in a separate Citi News interview, John Adu noted that, “Indeed, it isn’t that Opuni held somebody’s hand somewhere and brought the persons in, he came to meet the contract in progress; and because he came to meet it, because it is governance he had to continue with it” he explained.
Opuni facing ‘highest order of political persecution’
Some members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) including former MP, George Loh and National Organiser of the NDC, Kofi Adams have all insisted that government is persecuting Opuni.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Branch of the opposition NDC, had lambasted government for what it calls the “persecution of Dr. Stephen Opuni.”