Dr Yaw Adu Ampomah, the third prosecution witness in the trial involving, Dr Stephen Opuni, the former CEO of COCOBOD and one another on Tuesday said farmers expressed concerns about the lithovit liquid fertilizer supplied to them.
He told an Accra High Court hearing the trial that during the preliminary investigation conducted by the transitional team of COCOBOD and during EOCO investigation, they received complaints from farmers describing the product as water.
Dr Ampomah made this known during a cross examination led by Nutifafa Nutsukpui, the lawyer for Seidu Agongo, the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, who held brief for Benson Nutsukpui.
The Counsel asked the witness that in respect of lithovit liquid fertilizer, was he aware of any farmer or user complaint that COCOBOD received and he answered in the affirmative.
He said some farmers complained that the lithovit liquid fertilizer was like water and that when they go to their various farms and the need arises as a result of shortage of water, they could drink that in place of water.
Asked whether, he would be surprised if he was told that the second prosecution witness, Dr Arthur told the court that Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) was not aware of any of such farmer or user complaints, but the witness said “I will not know, my Lord.”
Mr Nutsukpui asked the witness, whether he could recall, a letter, he wrote dated February 16, 2017 asking CRIG for the recommendations of a fertilizer called omini Cocoa aduanie and the witness said it was possible but he could not recall.
“In a letter dated 19 May, 2017, CRIG responded to your letter of the Feb, 16, 2017 do you recall,” the Counsel asked and Dr Ampomah said it was possible but he could not recall.
At this stage the defence tendered the letters as evidence and it was admitted.
Mr Nutsukpui presented an office copy of a letter sent to the witness in his capacity as the former Deputy CEO in Charge of Agronomy and Quality control, and asked him to confirm to the court, which the witness did.
The Counsel asked the witness that on May 17, 2017, per a letter, COCOBOD awarded a contract for the supply of 50,000 liters of galil insecticide and that letter was signed by the witness and he agreed.
“Again, do you agree with me that in a letter dated May 17, 2017 and addressed to Reiss and Co limited, COCOBOD awarded a contract for the supply of 50,000 liters of nomax insecticide,” the Counsel asked and he agreed.
The Defence again tendered the contract letter as evidence, which was admitted.
The defence wanted to tender another contract letter awarded by COCOBOD for the supply of 100,000 litre of Okumakate insecticide to K. Badu limited but the State objected.
Mrs Stella Ohene-Appiah, Principal State Attorney at this stage objected to the tendering of this document saying it has no bearing on the subject matter and amiability is relevant in tendering of documents.
She said the document which was related to the Okumakate insecticide was irrelevant, because tendering of these documents were just wasting the court’s time and intended to confuse the issues.
The Counsel in his response said the objection has no foundation in law and it was also presumptuous on the part of the prosecution.
“To insist that the word ‘lithovit’ has not appear in the document means that it is not relevant for the purpose of this trial but rather to take a narrow view of the charges the accused person faces,” he added.
He said these documents were not being thrown in for the sake of it and if the prosecution could recall on the January 9, 2020, similar documents were tendered in and series of questions were asked after.
The Counsel said if the prosecution should have waited while, they will know there were relevant questions concerning these documents.
He said these documents were life support machines for their defence, hence the objections must be dismissed.
“In any case the witness has testified extensively on testing procedures at CRIG, as well as the procurement processes of COCOBOD. The State did not only limit him to only matters of lithovit, so we wonder why they want to tie our hands.
The Court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenugah, an Appeal Court Judge, sitting as an additional High Court Judge said after hearing the parties in the case, the objection to the question asked by the defence for A2 and A3 appears from the submission that those documents were relevant to their defence.
He said at the end of the case it was the court that would decide and determine whether the documents presented were relevant to the matter or not.
Consequently, the objection was overruled and the document was admitted into evidence.
The Case has been adjourned to February 6 for continuation.
Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officer and acting in contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
They have pleaded not guilty and have been granted a GH¢300,000.00 each self-recognisance bail by the Court.