Dr stephen Opuni
The former Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr. Stephen Opuni, who is standing trial for allegedly causing financial loss to the state, is set to call his second witness on Monday, May 16, 2022.
The witness, Samuel Torbi, a cocoa famer from Assin Fosu in the Central Region, is expected to testify about his experience with the application of the controversial Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser to his cocoa farm.
Lawyers for Dr. Opuni have already filed a witness statement together with attached documents on behalf of the witness, as ordered by the court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Supreme Court judge sitting as an additional High Court judge.
Dr. Opuni is standing trial together with private businessman, Seidu Agongo, and his company, Agricult Ghana Limited, for allegedly causing over GH¢217 million financial loss to the state in the purchase and supply of Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser.
He has already called his first witness, Charles Tetteh Dodoo, a former Director of Finance at COCOBOD, who had testified about the processes at COCOBOD with regards to the purchase of agrochemicals and fertilisers.
He told the court in his evidence-in-chief that Chief Executive Officers of COCOBOD do not write letters but only sign them and, therefore, it could not be the case that Dr. Opuni wrote to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) seeking permission to sole source the purchase of Lithovit fertiliser.
He, however, told the court while under cross-examination by Mrs. Evelyn Keelson, a Chief State Attorney that he had no idea about the nature of Lithovit Foliar Fertiliser that was tested by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) in 2013, which was eventually approved and bought by COCOBOD.
The witness also confirmed to the court that he had no idea about the material safety data sheet (MSDS), the document detailing the nature and form of the fertiliser, which accompanied the fertiliser that was submitted to CRIG by Agricult Ghana Limited through Seidu Agongo for testing.
Mr. Dodoo also confirmed to the court that he did not have the benefit of the report which CRIG sent to COCOBOD on the tested Lithovit Foliar Fertiliser, which led to COCOBOD purchasing the product.
Meanwhile, Dr. Opuni has secured a subpoena against some former employees of the state institution, Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), as well as a private banker.
Among the subpoenaed witnesses are Samuel Amponsah, the Acting Head of COCOBOD’s Cocoa Health Extension Division (CHED); Peter Okyere Boateng, a former Deputy Executive Director of CHED in charge of Monitoring and Evaluation; Dr. Gilbert Anin Kwapong, the then Executive Director of CRIG in 2015/16 and 2016/17 cocoa seasons; Attah Kwasi, a farmer and Reginald Aduakwa, a banker.
His lawyer, Samuel Codjoe, has also requested the court to allow one of their witnesses, Ambassador Daniel Ohene Agyekum, who was once the Chairman of COCOBOD’s Entity Tender Committee and currently resident in Kumasi, to testify via a video link due to a health challenge for which he cannot travel to Accra to testify in person.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak