A first prosecution witness in the trial of Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni has testified that the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) recommended the use of Agricut Lithovit foliar on matured cocoa to COCOBOD.
The Executive Director of Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, Dr Franklin Manu Amoah is the first Prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni and Seidu Agongo.
During the cross examination Dr. Opuni’s lawyer, Samuel Cudjoe asked the witness; “Your recommendation was based on the fact that Lithovit fertilizer had the same qualities as Nutrismart, Vegemax and so you approved it. Do you agree that Dr opuni only affirmed your research finding and nothing else?”
The witness, in his response to the above question told the court Dr.Opuni affirmed the research findings but added that former COCOBOD CEO could “have also made some recommendations”.
Below are excerpts of the cross-examination
Question by lawyer: This letter was affirming your recommendation right?
Answer by witness: Yes my Lord Lawyer: Your recommendation was based on the fact that Lithovit fertilizer had the same qualities as Nutrismart, Vegemax and so you approved it. So do you agree that Dr. Opuni only affirmed your research finding and nothing else?
Witness: Yes but he could have also made recommendations.
Lawyer: Dr. Amoah do you doubt your own competence as Agronomist?
Witness: No but it is the sole prerogative of Cocobod to approve or disapprove what we do. Lawyer: Dr Amoah, but what you recommended after testing is what Cocobod approved?
Dr Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo are facing 27 charges of willfully causing financial loss of GHC217million to the state, through three separate fertiliser supply contracts between 2014 and 2016.
The contracts were GHC43.1 million (2013/2014 cocoa farming season), GHC75.3 million (2014/2015 cocoa farming season) and GHC98.9 million (2015/2016 cocoa farming season) totaling GHC217 million through sole-sourcing, the state claimed, adding that procurement procedures for sole-sourcing were not followed.