Farmers never requested for chemicals through sole-sourcing – Witness

Mr Samuel Cudjoe, a Defence Counsel in the trial involving Dr Stephen Opuni and one Seidu Agongo, claimed that COCOBOD wrote to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) informing them that farmers prefer the purchase of chemicals by sole-sourcing.

But Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, the third witness disagreed with that claim.

Dr Adu-Ampomah, who is the Special Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture on Cocoa Affairs debunked the assertion during further cross-examination and explained that even though there was a letter dated March 27, 2018, it was a technical matter.

Earlier, the Court ordered the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of both the PPA and COCOBOD to furnish the Defence Counsel correspondence in the form of request and approval letters in connection with the purchase of all fertilizers done through sole sourcing during the tenure of Dr Opuni between December 2013 and December 2016.

The CEOs are also to produce correspondence on the purchase of lithovit foliar fertilizer done through sole sourcing.

The Court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenugah, an Appeal Court Judge, sitting as an additional High Court Judge directed the said CEOs to comply with the order within seven day of service on them.

Counsel for Dr Opuni showed the witness three selected letters, two written by the witness and one from the PPA and asked him, whether he had knowledge of these letters of which he answered in the affirmative.

Mr Cudjoe, then tendered the letters through the witness and was admitted into evidence.

The Counsel suggested to the witness that in one of its approval letters to COCOBOD, it was actually advising the Board to advertise the procurement processes in the purchase of agro-chemicals but Dr Adu-Ampomah disagreed.

The witness explained that in that instance, the Board was faced with problems, where several insecticides were procured or were in the process of been procured by the previous management, which had not be tested and approved by COCOBOD and its efficacy were in suspect, and that the procurement process was a suspect.

He said because of that some agro-chemicals that had been tested were needed to be procured urgently to meet spraying needs, which was pending and based on technical issues, they thought these products could be procured as early as possible to spray the cocoa in that season.

Mr Cudjoe pointed to the witness that when the PPA wrote to the Board, it was advising them to advertise for the purchase of agro-chemicals but the witness said “we thought PPA is usurping its Authority, because there are technical issues, it cannot understand.”

When the witness was asked, whether all the request letters to the PPA for the purchase of these agro-chemicals were through sole-sourcing, the witness said no, there was another request letter for a competitive bidding.

“What we have here is just half of the procurement process,” he said.

At this stage, the Defence asked the court to make an order for the document to be produced to them to enable them cross-examined the witness, meanwhile, the prosecution stated that it had no objection and promised to file the document in court.

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 contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 each self-recognisance bail.

The case has been adjourned to Thursday, June 20 for further cross examination.

Source: GNA

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