Opuni ‘fertilizer’ drinkable – Witness

General News of Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Source: dailyguidenetwork.com

2020-01-22

Dr Stephen Opuni, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD)

An Accra High Court has heard that some farmers who appeared before a Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) fact-finding committee on fertilizer claimed that the Lithovit fertilizer which they used on their farms was like water and, therefore, drinkable.

The farmers are said to have complained about the quality of the fertilizer to both the COCOBOD committee and the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), and compared the product to water.

A former Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Agrochemicals and Quality Control at COCOBOD, Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah, a third prosecution witness, stated this while under cross-examination in the trial of Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo who have been charged with willfully causing financial loss to the state.

“During the preliminary investigation and during EOCO investigation, we received complaints from farmers concerning the Lithovit liquid fertilizer. Some farmers complained that the Lithovit liquid fertilizer was like water and that when they went to their farms and there was shortage of water, they could drink that in place of water,” the court heard.

His statement was in response to a question from counsel for Seidu Agongo, supplier of the Lithovit fertilizer, who wanted to know whether the witness was aware of any farmer or user complaint that COCOBOD had received about the product his client’s company supplied to the COCOBOD.

Initial Evidence

Dr. Adu-Ampomah, in May last year, told the court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenugah that tests by the Ghana Standard Authority and the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana indicated differences between the tested fertilizer as indicated in the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and the liquid fertilizer.

He said the MSDS on the product indicated that the Lithovit fertilizer was powdery and grey, and also it had active ingredients of calcium carbonate at 84.5 per cent and magnesium carbonate at 4.6 per cent.

However, “The Ghana Standard Authority report stated that the calcium carbonate present in the liquid fertilizer was 0.0002 per cent as against the 84.5 per cent calcium carbonate in the MSDS. The magnesium carbonate was 0.0002 per cent as against the 4.6 per cent in the MSDS. And they concluded that the product cannot be classified as fertilizer and it cannot be applied on mature cocoa to increase yield,” he had said.

“The University of Ghana Chemistry Department also concluded that the amounts of the two active ingredients present in the product were insignificant and the product cannot be applied on mature cocoa to increase yield,” Dr. Adu-Ampomah added.

Trial

The former Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Dr. Opuni, and businessman Seidu Agongo, Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, are before an Accra High Court for causing financial loss to the state to the tune of GH¢217,370,289.22.

The two are facing a total of 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.

The two are in court over the purchase and supply of Lithovit fertilizer which the state said was done in contravention of several laws.

The prosecution has maintained that the fertilizer tested and approved with certificate was a solid substance but the defence insisted it was in a liquid form.

Hearing continues on February 6, 2020.

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