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Dr Alfred Arthur, a witness in the trial of Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, who was the former acting Head of Soil Science at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), has said that the Agricult Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser procured from Agricult Ghana Limited was not tested.
Dr Alfred Arthur, a scientist at the Soil Science Division of CRIG, who was answering questions under cross-examination, noted that the only fertiliser that was tested was Lithovit Foliar Fertiliser.
When Dr Arthur was queried by the lead counsel for Seidu Agongo, he indicated that the difference between the two fertilisers was that the Lithovit Foliar Fertiliser was solid while the Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser was in a liquid form.
Benson Nutsukpui, counsel for Seidu Agongo, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Agricult Ghana Limited, asked the witness whether he knew Dr Anim Kwapong prepared a detailed handing-over note for Dr Franklin Amoah, but Dr Arthur said, “My Lord, l have not sighted any document, but it should be a normal practice for any officer leaving office.”
On whether he was aware that Agricult Ghana Limited paid an amount of GH¢21,492 to CRIG and also received acknowledgment of receipt for the sensitisation of farmers and extension officers on new tested products, the witness indicated he may not know that.
The counsel asked the witness whether scientists from the Soil Sciences Division train extension officers of COCOBOD on new fertilisers tested, and Dr Arthur answered yes.
Nutsukpui further asked that when these trainings take place, does the division send bills and budget to the companies whose products were tested to pay for the sensitisation and awareness creation on the product; the witness said yes.
He, however, explained that what happens was that if a product was tested and recommendation were made to COCOBOD and approvals made with issuance of certificate, the client may write to CRIG that they want a sensitisation to be done for the farmers and the officers on the approved product, so it was upon the request from the company that the training would be done.
The counsel asked whether the witness was aware that CRIG gave an invoice of GH¢6,492.50 for the certificate renewal of Agricult Liquid Lithovit Fertiliser signed by Dr Anim Kwapong, the then acting Executive Director of CRIG.
The witness said, “CRIG at the end of the trial year will normally send bill to clients, whose products have been tested and approved by COCOBOD to renew their certificate before the New Year.”
He said it is usually based on the first certificate issued, which should be renewed, but the certificate on Lithovit fertiliser issued indicated that the product was Lithovit Foliar fertiliser, so he was surprised to hear that CRIG was to renew a certificate called Agricult Liquid Foliar fertiliser, which CRIG never tested.
Upon a request from Nutsukpui, the counsel for Seidu Agongo, the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, Justice Clemence Honyenugah, an appeal court judge sitting as an additional high court judge, directed the Executive Director of Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) to furnish the court with some letters and other documents to assist in the trial process by Tuesday, December 11.
This letters and documents include a letter for renewal of certificate dated November 20, 2014 for pesticides, fertilisers and spraying machines from January to December 2015 with reference number CRG 4 Vol. 54.714 and another letter with reference number CRG. 39/14 Vol. 19/6448 dated October 21, 2014.
The directive said they should involve its attachments and the handing-over notes of Dr Anim Kwapong, together with its attachment and its report on the testing of agro-chemicals and spraying machine with all the pages signed.
Justice Honyenugah said the Cocoa Health and Extension Division of COCOBOD is also joined to the directive.
He said a further signed copy and completed report on the field visits by the management of Cocoa Health and Extension Division dated April 25, 2015 should also be furnished to the court.
The court gave the directive in the trial of Dr Stephen Opuni, former Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, and Mr Seidu Agongo Chief Executive Officer of Agricult Ghana Limited.
The court, presided over by Justice Honyenugah, adjourned the case to Monday, December 10, for continuation of further cross-examination of the witness.
Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officer and acting in contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
They have pleaded not guilty and have each been granted a GH¢300,000 self-recognisance bail by the court.
Source: John APPIAH, the Finder, Accra