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Opuni trial: AG’s 3rd, 6th witnesses sing different tunes on Cocobod fertiliser procurement

The long-held position of Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, the special advisor to the Minister of Agriculture that the Ghana Cocoa Board engages in competitive bidding in the procurement of fertilisers has, again, been refuted by the state’s sixth prosecution witness in the ongoing Opuni trial.

Dr Adu-Ampomah, in his testimony before the court, noted that COCOBOD does not usually engage in sole-sourcing but advertises to get companies to supply it with fertilisers, a claim which was slammed by Mr Sam Codjoe, counsel for the former COCOBOD CEO, Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni.

Dr Adu-Ampomah crumbled under cross-examination as Mr Codjoe cited numerous instances where COCOBOD sole-sourced fertilser procurement.

However, taking his turn to give his evidence-in-chief, the Director of Finance at COCOBOD, Mr Peter Osei Amoako, noted that in the case of fertiliser procurement, the Chief Executive of COCOBOD writes to the Public Procurement Authority to request permission to sole-source the fertiliser it needs for a given crop year.

He said: “In the case of fertiliser, although fertiliser goes through the same budgetary processes before it is procured, it has to be tested for a minimum of two years at CRIG. Once it goes through the testing regime, a report is issued by CRIG and forwarded to the Chief Executive for approval.  Once the report is approved, CRIG issues a certificate to the supplier valid for one year. Once these processes have been completed, COCOBOD will now consider that particular fertiliser as part of the list of fertilisers to be procured.

“Based on this arrangement, suppliers will be requested to submit quotations. The Chief Executive will now send a letter to PPA to sole-source those fertilisers.

“Once approval is granted, notification of approval is issued to the suppliers. The suppliers will then submit performance guarantees. The guarantees are vetted and Okayed by the legal department. Now, contracts are established between COCOBOD and the supplier”, he explained.

Sam Codjoe Objects to tendering contract between COCOBOD and Agricult

In court on November 9, 2020, Dr Opuni’s counsel, Mr Codjoe, objected to the tendering into evidence of a February 6, 2015, contract between COCOBOD and Agricult Ghana Limited for the supply of lithovit liquid fertiliser.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, leading Peter Osei Amoako to give his evidence-in-chief, sought to tender the document into evidence.

But Mr Codjoe objected to it.

According to him, the said contract, which contained a 2014 CRIG certificate, was problematic, insisting there was a mistake somewhere.

He argued that the CRIG certificate attached to the contract had expired and likely bound to the contract by the person who compiled it.

In her counter-argument, the DPP described the objection as strange, since the certificate was attached to the contract.

She noted that it is for Dr Opuni’s legal team to explain why, as CEO, he (Dr Opuni) failed to notice that he was signing a contract with an expired certificate.

In her estimation, it is absolutely untrue that the prosecution has tendered a valid CRIG certificate for 2015, since it does not exist.

She said “the document is coming from proper custody, absolutely essential and relevant for the conduct of this case, as charges include the conduct of Dr Opuni for the supply of lithovit for 2014/15. It is our case that he signed this contract even though Agricult did not have the valid certificate at the time that it was being signed”.

The presiding judge, Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, in his ruling, said: “Upon hearing counsel for the first accused and upon hearing the DPP, this document ought to be admitted into evidence because it is relevant. If counsel has any qualms with this document, he will have the opportunity to cross-examine the witness. In the circumstances, the objection is overruled and the document admitted into evidence and marked as Exhibit Z”.

The Director of Finance at COCOBOD, Mr Peter Osei Amoako, is expected to conclude his evidence-in-chief when the court resumes on Thursday, 12 November 2020, after which Mr Codjoe will commence his cross-examination.

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