General News of Saturday, 13 October 2018
Dr Franklin Manu Amoah, the first prosecution witness in the COCOBOD case involving former COCOBOD CEO, Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, businessman Seidu Agongo and Agricult Company Limited, on Friday, 12 October 2018, told the court that he and his colleague scientists decided to set up multiple sites in testing the Lithovit Foliar Fertiliser testing.
This was contrary to a directive by the then-COCOBOD CEO, Dr Opuni, to shorten the testing period for the cocoa fertiliser.
Class91.3FM’s Joshua Kodjo Mensah, who was in court, reported that Benson Nutsukpui, the lawyer for Mr Agongo and Agricult, tried to first establish whether Dr Amoah believed the system at CRIG for testing of chemicals was effective, to which Dr Amoah responded in the affirmative.
Dr Amoah told the court that he, indeed, referred the Lithovit Foliar sample to the Committee on Testing Chemicals and Machinery (CTCM), which is the body responsible for the testing and evaluation of all chemicals presented to CRIG by COCOBOD.
Dr Amoah said CTCM worked on the sample and prepared a certificate for his signature.
The former Executive Director of CRIG also affirmed that, in his statement to the police, he indicated that this was the same process through which all chemicals and machines including Duapa and Lithovit passed.
Dr Amoah further explained that what he told the police was that, in order not to compromise the test period, they could have more replication in place.
This means that in order not to shorten the test period, they could have more test locations so that at any particular time, the results they get could be averaged to get the actual effect of the fertiliser.
He added that they adopted this approach because the directive given by Dr Opuni to reduce the test period was not acceptable to the scientists.
After further deliberations, the case was adjourned to Monday, 15 October 2018.
Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges including defrauding by false pretence, willfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by a public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
According to the charges, the fertilisers were manufactured without registration, thereby, flouting the Plants and Fertiliser Act 2010.
The Attorney General also claims the fertiliser was not effective when it was applied to cocoa plants.
Both Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo have pleaded not guilty and each granted self-recognisance bail of GHS300,000.00 by the court.