General News of Monday, 22 October 2018
Counsel for businessman Seidu Agongo, Benson Nutsukpui on Monday, 22 October 2018, told an Accra High Court that farmers prefer the Lithovit FoliaR fertiliSer to the granular type.
This is in relation to the case involving former COCOBOD CEO, Dr. Stephen Opuni and Mr. Agongo, over alleged malpractices in the procurement of Lithovit by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).
Mr. Nutsukpui told the court that reports by the Cocoa Health and Extension Division of COCOBOD pointed to the fact that farmers preferred Lithovit Foliar Fertiliser to the granular type due to its ability to induce growth.
Monday was the climax of cross-examination of the first prosecution witness by Mr. Nutsukpui, counsel for the 2nd and 3rd accused persons.
He asked Dr. Franklin Manu Amoah if he had ever been influenced in deciding issues regarding his office as Executive Director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), to which he answered no.
Mr. Nutsukpui then put it to Dr. Amoah that when he appeared before the Adu Ampomah Committee, he was specifically asked if he succumbed to Dr. Opuni’s pressure and he responded that: “No, he didn’t”.
Dr. Amoah, in response, told the court that he did not succumb to the pressure but since Dr. Opuni was his boss, he had no option than to forward the report.
Mr. Nutsukpui asked him again if he did succumb, to which Dr. Amoah responded in the affirmative.
Dr. Amoah had told the court earlier that he interrogated the lead scientist at CRIG, Mr. A.A. Afrifa on why the testing period for Lithovit was reduced and the reason he was given was that it was based on Dr. Opuni’s directive.
It emerged in court on Monday that Dr. Amoah did not state this in his report at EOCO nor in his statement to the CID. He argued that it did not show up in his statements to the CID and EOCO because he was asked specific questions.
Mr. Nutsupkui then asked Dr. Amoah about a meeting in February 2017, where Dr. Amoah, together with two other scientists, Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah, and Dr. William Mensah met with Dr. Richard Adu Acheampong and Dr. Gilbert Anim Kwapong at the COCOBOD head office. Dr. Amoah said he could not remember.
Mr. Nutsukpui told the court that at that meeting, Dr. Amoah was questioned on the efficacy of Lithovit, Pridapod and Akate Power. At that same meeting, Dr. William Mensah stated that he had complaints from farmers that Lithovit was just like water, but Dr. Anim Kwapong stated that that was the first time he was hearing a complaint from farmers about Lithovit, which was corroborated by Dr. Richard Adu Acheampong, who said he was also not aware of any farmer complaints.
But Dr. Amoah insisted he could not remember any such meeting.
Mr. Nutsukpui told the court that the former Head of the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED), Dr. Baah stated that the farmers had very good reports about Lithovit.
This, Dr. Amoah assented to, as he said in the transitional era, Dr. Baah told the team that Lithovit induced cocoa growth.
Mr. Nutsukpui then added that Dr. Baah, per interactions with farmers, said the extension officers were duly informed by the farmers that they prefer Lithovit to granular fertiliser and all these were contained in a CHED report on the field visit they made in April 2015.
The case has been adjourned to 29 October 2018.