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General News of Friday, 21 December 2018

Source: The Herald

Opuni, Agongo trial lands in troubled waters

Stephen Opuni, Former CEO of COCOBOD Stephen Opuni, Former CEO of COCOBOD

Documents upon documents, continue to pop up at the ongoing criminal trial of the former Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman, Seidu Agongo which is making government’s case a herculean task.

One such document, dated July 2017, which reveals that even in the heat of investigations by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and the Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID), the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), was testing and renewing its certification of the Lithovit fertilizer and identifying it as liquid.

The said letter, was written and signed by Rev Father Oddorye (Phd), a Deputy Executive Director of Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG).

It is presently before the court as a prove of Seidu Agongo and Agricult’s defence that Lithovit fertilizer, has always remained a liquid substance, certified and highly recommended for use in cocoa cultivation by CRIG.

The second document dated October 21, 2014, was authored by Dr.Gilbert Anim-Kwapong, then an Executive Director of CRIG.

It had asked Agricult to sponsor a training programme for cocoa farmers and Cocoa extensions workers on the use of “Lithovit liquid fertilizer”.

Seidu Agongo’s Agricult, paid CRIG for the training programme and was issued a receipt. This was after an invoice was issued the agro company.

In all the documents, Lithovit was identified as a liquid fertilizer and not a powdery substance as claimed by Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Gloria Akuffo.

There is yet another document dated November 20, 2014, and authored by Dr. Kwabena Opoku Ameyaw, the then Deputy Executive Director of CRIG, where the institute demanded for a renewal of the certification of Lithovit in 2015.

Again, in that document and its attachments including receipts and invoices, the fertilizer was identified by CRGI as a liquid.

Dr. Opoku-Ameyaw was also the chairman of the Committee on Testing Chemicals and Machinery (CTCM) of CRIG when Lithovit was submitted to it for testing and approval in 2013.

CTCM was set up by Dr. Franklin Manu Amoah, then Executive Director of CRIG, to be responsible for the testing and evaluation of all agro chemicals and machines presented to CRIG by COCOBOD.

It is presently unclear, if the prosecution, will call Dr. Opoku Ameyaw and Rev Father Oddorye to speak to their documents.

The Herald’s checks revealed that Dr. Opoku Ameyaw, a soil scientist and agronomist, has since gone on retirement, while Rev Father Oddorye is still at CRIG.

Meanwhile, the trial on Wednesday, took another interesting turn, when the state vehemently objected to the tendering of documents filed in court by its own witness.

CRIG, had on December 19, 2018, filed that documents at the court’s registrar, following a court order.

Dr. Stephen Opuni and Seidu Agongo have denied any wrongdoing and have pleaded not guilty to all the 27 charges and have each been granted a GHS300,000.00 self-recognisance bail by the court.

The case was adjourned to January 16, 21 and 25, 2019 respectively.

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