Opuni ‘Fertilizer’Drinkable – Witness –

Dr. Stephen Opuni

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.

BY Gibril Abdul Razak

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