The Executive Director of Cocoa Research Institute Ghana (CRIG), Dr. Franklin Manu Amoah has told an Accra High Court that there are no documents at the institute covering a re-evaluation for Agricult Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer.
Dr. Amoah re-echoed that CRIG had never tested any liquid Lithovit fertilizer and hence it was not possible for the institute to do re-evaluation for an agrochemical which had not been tested and certified.
That was not the first time he insisted that the institute only tested Lithovit Foliar fertilizer, which is solid in nature and form and a certificate given to that effect.
Dr. Amoah who is the first prosecution witness in the trial of Dr. Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo has on several occasions insisted that the institute tested a solid fertilizer and that was what the institute recommended to COCOBOD and therefore finds it hard to believe that a liquid Agricult Lithovit fertilizer was purchased and later re-evaluated in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Whiles under cross-examination by Benson Nutsukpui, lead council for Seidu Agongo, Dr. Amoah insisted that CRIG never did re-evaluation for Agricult Lithovit Liquid fertilizer when asked whether he was aware Lithovit was one of the fertilizers distributed to farmers on the Codapec and Hitec programme by COCOBOD in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
“I wouldn’t know, in that shortly after the certificate was issued on Lithovit foliar fertilizer from Germany I was transferred to COCOBOD and I wasn’t privy to any procurements that were made until during the transitional period that I got to know that COCOBOD had procured Agricult Lithovit which was different from what CRIG tested and issued certificate on during my time”, Dr. Amoah emphasized.
“As I’ve stated in this court, I haven’t sighted any test or re-evaluation report for Agricult Lithovit for 2014, 2015 or 2016 and therefore such recommended to COCOBOD… I exited from COCOBOD in 2014 and since I came back I haven’t sighted any re-evaluation report for Agricult Lithovit for 2014 2015 or 2016”, Dr. Amoah contended.
Dr. Franklin Manu Amoah told the court that he gave an alternative to former CEO of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni’s directive for the institution to reduce the testing period for chemicals and fertilizers.
He said instead of the six-month reduced testing period directed by Dr. Opuni, he suggested that the institution could have more replication in space rather than in period.
Dr. Amoah who is the first prosecution witness in the trial of Dr. Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo told the court that he suggested that “in order not to shorten the test period, we could have more test locations so that at any particular time the result we get could be averaged to get the actual effect of the fertilizer”.
The CRIG boss was answering a question under cross-examination by Benson Nutsukpui, lead counsel for Seidu Agongo that he (Dr. Amoah) told the case investigator that he and the scientists at CRIG brainstormed on implicating more in space than in time.
He said the suggestion became necessary because all the scientists at CRIG perceived Dr. Opuni’s directive to reduce the testing period to be unacceptable.
“This was because the directive given by Dr. Opuni to reduce the testing period was not acceptable to scientists. This was the suggestion we brainstormed. And this is statistically acceptable where you do multi-locational testing”, Dr. Amoah told the court.
The cross-examination by Mr. Nutsukpui hinged heavily on meetings between Dr. Opuni and some scientists from CRIG, who attended the meeting and the issues discussed.
The lawyer wanted to know if it is true what Mr. Akrofi, a scientist at CRIG told the police that on January 17, 2014, he attended a meeting with Dr. Opuni, Dr. Dwomoh, Mr. Afrifa and Dr. Hansen Baah.
But the Director of Public Prosecutions, (DPP) Yvonne Attakorah Obuobisa objected to the question saying the lawyer is asking the witness a hearsay statement made by someone who has not yet testified before the court.
She said the question could have been accepted if the statement was already in evidence and the court was served with what the declarant had said.
But Mr. Nutsukpui maintained that the witness had already told the court that Dr. Opuni held a meeting with scientists from CRIG on January 17 and 21, 2014 and is being asked a question on one of the persons he mentioned as being at the meeting.
The court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenugah sustained the objection saying the question was inadmissible.
On the issues discussed at the meeting, Mr. Nutsukpui put it to the witness that “the issue which was discussed at that meeting according to the participants was the testing of the insecticides”.
Dr. Amoah responded by saying “I wouldn’t know but what Mr. Akrofi told me on their return was that they discussed the testing of chemicals in general with particular reference to reducing the testing period of generic chemicals and fertilizers”.
This led to a give-and-take sort between the lawyer and the witness as they both have different versions of what transpired at the said meeting.
Dr. Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo 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 pretense, willfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by a public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.