Cocoa Board Boss ‘concealed’ vital document – A-G’s witness tells court

General News of Friday, 19 October 2018



Joseph Boahen Aidoo, CEO of COCOBOD

The Executive Director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) who is the Attorney-General’s witness in the ongoing trial of former Ghana Cocoa Board boss, Dr. Stephen Opuni, businessman Seidu Agongo and Agricult Company Limited, on Monday revealed that he did not get a handing over note from predecessor,Dr. G. J. Anim-Kwapong.

This, he explained was because the current Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahene Aidoo, did not give it to him when he demanded it from him, because he had personally collected it from Dr. Kwarpong, before he was kicked out from CRIG, and he (Dr. Amoah) made to head the institution for the second time.

According to Dr. Amoah, although he demanded from the COCOBOD boss, but still could not get it, and so started working without knowing the state of the scientific resource institution.

Dr. Amoah, made the revelation on Monday after counsel for Seidu Agongo, Benson Nutsupkui, asked him if he had come across any handing over note from his predecessor in which a re-evaluation report from the Committee for Testing of Chemicals and Machines (CTCM) of CRIG on the Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer, the subject matter of the trial was mentioned.

Dr. Amoah, was unable to tell the court presided over by Justice Clement Hoenyenugah, an Appeal Court Judge sitting as additional High Court Judge that the CTCM under the directorship of Dr. Kwarpong, had evaluated the fertilizer and authorized its use in any report.

He disclosed that upon assumption of office, he had confronted Dr. Kwarpong, over the handing over note, but he simply directed him to Mr. Boahen Aidoo, telling him he had personally authorized and collected the said document, therefore, must get a copy from the COCOBOD CEO.

Dr. Amoah, told the court he subsequently went to Mr Boahene Aidoo, for the document, but it was not made available to him, therefore, he started work without seeing the state of the scientific research institution in terms of agro chemicals and machinery tested by the scientists.

Dr. Amoah, admitted to the court that there’s continuous monitoring of agro chemicalsthe CTCM, adding samples for revaluation could be obtained from farmers, markets and ware houses of the importer.

He explained that during re-evaluation of the product’s efficacy, the views of farmers on the product are also considered aside the observations of the scientists at CRIG.

The CTCM recommendations after the revaluation, leads to renewable of certificate on the products. Agricult, had insisted that it has various report from CRIG in which they had identified the Lithovit Fertilizer as liquid. CRIG had also issued invoices in it had identified the fertilizer as liquid.

Other documents according to the lawyers of Dr. Opuni and Agongo, had described the fertilizer as high-yielding product.

On Monday, Dr. Amoah denied coming across any report CTCM submitted to COCOBOD per a CRIG letter dated August 31, 2016 with the reference number 27/118/4743.

Last week, Dr. Amoah, said he and his colleague scientists at CRIG, flouted an allege verbal directive from Dr. Opuni, and ensured that Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer went through every due process before its certification and purchase by the board.

Revelation is contrary to what he told the same court during his evidence-in-chief on Monday, July 16, 2018 that Dr. Opuni side stepped all laid down procedures in testing fertilizers and contracted Agricult Ghana Limited owned by AlhajiSeiduAgongo.

Led in evidence by Chief State Attorney Evelyn Keelson regarding the supply Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer, Dr. Amoah in July, explained that CTCM responsible for testing the fertilizer were simply obeying a verbal policy decision introduced by Dr. Opuni when he assumed office as CEO, in recommending the fertilizer for use.

However, last week Friday, Dr. Amoah, told the court that he and his colleague scientists decided to flout Dr. Opuni’s allege “verbal directive” and took the agro product through due process by setting up multiple sites in testing the Lithovit Fertilizer.

CRIG, he insisted did not adhere to the then COCOBOD CEO’s directive to shorten the testing period for the cocoa fertilizer. Dr. Opuni has denied issuing any verbal directive.

Dr. Amoah established his personal belief and pride in the system at CRIG in testing of chemicals.

He acknowledged CRIG as a renowned institute with an effective and efficient system, adding its human resources were also very capable.

In March 2018, the Attorney –General, charged Opuni and Agongo with 27 counts for engaging in illegalities that caused financial loss of GH¢271.3 million to the state and led to the distribution of substandard fertilisers to cocoa farmers.

According to the A-G, DrOpuni, during his tenure as COCOBOD CEO (November 2013 to January 2017), breached laid down procedures in procurement and other laws that led the state to loss GH¢271.3 million in the alleged fertiliser scandal.

Agongo is also alleged to have used fraudulent means to sell substandard fertiliser to COCOBOD for onward distribution to cocoa farmers.

The two accused persons have denied any wrongdoing and have pleaded not guilty to all the 27 charges.

They are currently on bail in the sum of GH¢300,000 each. The cross-examination will continue on October 22, 2018 at the court.

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