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General News of Wednesday, 17 April 2019


Opuni Trial: Not a single farmer ever complained about Lithovit fertiliser – AG’s witness

Former COCOBOD CEO, Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni Former COCOBOD CEO, Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni

The second prosecution witness in the case involving a former CEO of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo, has told the court that farmers never complained about the use of Agricult’s Lithovit Liquid fertiliser.

While under cross-examination by Mr Benson Nutsukpui, the counsel for Mr Agongo on Wednesday, 17 April 2019, Dr Arthur affirmed that in 2014, 2015 and 2016 when Agricult Lithovit Liquid fertiliser was distributed to farmers in the cocoa regions, no complaint ever came to either COCOBOD or the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) regarding the use of the product.

According to him, in the 3-year period, no farmer even mentioned the product, neither did any office or officer of COCOBOD lodge any complaint against the product.

Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, willfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by a public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are each on a GHS300,000 self-recognisance bail.

The trial judge, who is sitting as an additional High Court judge, adjourned the case to 2 May 2019 at 10 a.m., 8 May 2019 at 10 a.m., and 14 May 2019 at 1:30 p.m.

Below are excerpts of Mr Nutsupui’s cross-examination of Dr Alfred Arthur:

Q. Dr Arthur, while working at CRIG during 2014, 2015 and 2016, did it come to your knowledge that Lithovit was being distributed to farmers in the cocoa growing regions?
A. No my lord.

Q. And while working in the cocoa fields on your operations in 5 of the 6 cocoa regions, it did not come to your knowledge that Lithovit fertiliser was distributed to farmers?

A. No…but in terms of cocoa regions, we have 7... Western North and Western South.

Q. Indeed, Dr Arthur, your operations covered both Western North and South.

A. Yes my lord.

Q. It is true that throughout 2014, 2015 and 2016, there was no complaint from you in respect of Lithovit.

A. Yes...during those periods, as I have already told the court, there was no re-evaluation of Lithovit foliar fertiliser.

Q. It is your position that during these 3 years, you never saw the product Lithovit Liquid fertiliser on any of your field visits.

A. Yes my lord.

Q. Your attention was never drawn to the product by any farmer in the three-year period.

A. Yes my lord.

Q. So, the first time you had an opportunity to discuss or comment on the Lithovit fertiliser that was supplied by Agricult was at the police station.

A. It was EOCO on July 4, 2017. That's when I saw Agricult Lithovit Foliar Fertiliser plus 5% Urea. On the bottle was indicated 1litre indicating that the product is a liquid substance, so, I told the officers that the Lithovit fertiliser that I worked on in July 2013 was in a powdery form from Germany.

Q. So, in the 3 years, materials were supplied on Lithovit. You, Dr Arthur never complained about the product.

A. No...I never saw the product during the periods under review.

Q. Tell this honourable court if you know, again, in the 3 years, there is no correspondence from CRIG complaining about the product.

A. Not that I know of.

Q. Do you know of any complaint from any office or officer of COCOBOD on the product in the material years of 2014, 2015 and 2016?

A. No my lord.

Q. And there is also no complaint from the procurement department on the product for the 3 years.

A. No my lord.

Q. As an officer of CRIG, and at your meetings, has any complaint from any farmer in relation to Lithovit been brought to your attention as officers of CRIG?

A. No my lord.

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