Dr. Stephen Opuni
It is turning out that the multi-million agreement between the Dr. Stephen Opuni-led COCOBOD and companies of businessman Seidu Agongo for the supply of fertilizers was signed at a time the previous Mahama administration had been defeated embarrassingly and was on its way out of government.
The said contracts with three of Seidu Agongo’s companies were signed on December 19, 2016 but the Ghana Arbitration Centre unanimously held last week that the agro-chemical products did not go through ‘proper testing’ protocols and therefore the claimant is not entitled to the whopping $46.460 million sought as reliefs against the state agency.
The tribunal said the contracts were “separate but substantially identical” and they were all signed on the same day.
The companies involved were Agricult Ghana Limited, which was billed to supply Lithovit liquid fertilizer estimated at $26.5 million, Sarago Limited, which was contracted to supply Duapa Fertilizer worth $14 million and Alive Industries Limited, which had been contracted to supply Acati Power estimated at $5.960 million.
Per the claims filed by Mr. Agongo during the arbitration on behalf of his three companies, COCOBOD had agreed that Agricult Limited should supply 1,000,000 litres of Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer, Sarago Limited should supply 400,000 bags of Duapa Fertilizer and Alive Industries Limited was supposed to supply 200,000 litres of Acati Power Insecticide.
The arbitration tribunal panel was chaired by eminent international arbitrator Nana Dr. S.K.B. Asante, with Mr. Agongo’s arbiter Kizito Beyuo and Justice Francis Emile Short, former CHRAJ boss, as Cocobod’s representative, assisting.
Mr. Agongo was represented by former GBA President Benson Nutsukpui while COCOBOD used prominent lawyer Phillip Addison as its counsel.
The tribunal held that upon the assumption of office of President Akufo-Addo, a multi-party transition team was established pursuant to provisions of Act 845 to perform functions duly prescribed in the said Act 845 for the purposes of effecting a transition of political power and the administration from the previous government to the new government.
Subsequently, the tribunal said evidence was given that sub-committees of the said Transition Team were established and one of the said sub-committees dealing with the agricultural sector conducted preliminary enquires which led to the conclusion that the full testing cycle had not been complied with in procuring the products of the claimants.
“The said sub-committee subsequently recommended to the Transition Team that the new management of COCOBOD should take appropriate action on the said preliminary findings.
The tribunal held that the said recommendation ultimately led to the issuance of letters abrogating the contracts.
“The Tribunal does not find any of the above steps taken by the respondent (COCOBOD) to be improper, illegal, or otherwise actuated by political expediency. The said steps were consistent with the provisions of the Act,” it added.
By William Yaw Owusu