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Opuni trial: Committee to submit report on missing letters on February 4

Dr. Stephen Opuni

An Accra High Court has directed the Committee set up to investigate some letters and documents allegedly missing in the case of Dr Stephen Opuni and one other, to file its report by February 4, 2019.

On December 3, 2018, the court directed the Executive Director of Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) to furnish it with some letters and other documents to assist in the trial process by Tuesday December 11 last year.

At the Court’s sitting on Monday 17th December, 2018 it announced that it has received the documents it demanded but its attachments were left out, hence a new directive for it to be produced as well.

The court then further directed the Deputy Director, Legal at COCOBOD to furnish it with invoices and other attachments to letters required by the court from Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG).

Earlier, Mr Johannes Velba, the Deputy Director, Legal at COCOBOD said their efforts to trace the letters took them through files that were supposed to contain the said letters from folio 44 of that file to folio 47 and believes that they were either misfiled or the records have been tempered with.

“Consequently, that letter is not on the file,” he added.

Mr Velba said the said letters were supposed to be in the middle of the documents, hence “we have therefore set up a committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the unavailability of the letter and other attachments.”

He prayed the court for some time to look for the document.

Dr Stephen Opuni, the former CEO of COCOBOD 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 contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and have been granted a GH¢300,000.00 each self-recognisance bail by the Court.

At the hearing on Monday, January 21, Mr Benson Nutsukpui, the lawyer for Mr Seidu Agongo, Chief Executive Officer of Agricult Ghana Limited drew the attention of the court to ascertain the current state of the investigations.

He said his client wanted to know, whether the documents were available for usage in the trial.

Mr Velba said his instructions were that the Committee has not finished its work.

He said initial reports indicated that they have not been able to find the missing documents or neither have they been able to unravel the circumstances that led to the tampering of the documents or its disappearance.

He prayed the court for two weeks for the committee to submit a report to the court.

Mr Nutsukpui in a further cross-examination asked the Dr Alfred Arthur, a scientist at the Soil Science Division of Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) to confirm if he still stand by his earlier position that CRIG has never described lithovit as a liquid fertilizer but the witness said “what l said to the court is that CRIG tested a product by name lithovit liquid fertilizer.”

He said indeed the test report signed by Dr Franklin Amoah, the then Executive Director of CRIG and submitted to COCOBOD with recommendation and approval by management of COCOBOD of it on January 2014.

He said the name of the product was written in BOLD CAPS as LITHOVIT FOLLAR FERTILIZER and the said report was sent to the then CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited and copied CRIG.

“The certificate covering the approval fertilizer issued by Dr Amoah on January 22, 2014 and the name on the certificate was Lithovit Follar Fertilizer,” he added.

The Defence Counsel pointed to the witness that Agricult in 2014, 2015 and 2016 only paid for renewal of its certificate but the witness said he was not aware of such payment.

When the witness was asked, whether he knew the certificate was renewed in 2016 for the 2017 crop season by CRIG, the witness said he was not aware of such renewal.

Mr Nutsukpui said CRIG prepares annual reports for its operations for COCOBOD and the witness responded in the affirmative.

“This report will indicate all renewals that have been done within the year,” counsel asked, but the witness disagreed.

When asked, whether it was true that per the high standards of CRIG’s effective operation Ghana’s Cocoa has been used as a benchmark for other countries, the witness agreed.

Justice Clemence Honyenugah, an Appeal Court Judge, sitting as an additional High Court Judge adjourned the case to Wednesday, February 6, for continuation of the trial.

Source: GNA

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