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Committee found it unnecessary to invite Chairman of CTCM – Witness

Dr. Stephen Opuni

Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, the third prosecution witness in the trial involving Dr Stephen Opuni and one other, has said the Committee did not find it necessary to invite the Chairman of the Committee for Testing Chemicals and Machines (CTCM).

He said the Committee was only interested in the Scientists, who worked on the Lithovit fertilizer under contention.

Dr Adu-Ampomah was answering questions through a cross-examination led by Mr Samuel Cudjoe, the Counsel for Dr Opuni.

Asked, whether, when the Committee was conducting its investigations in connection with some agro-base fertilizers and chemicals, they never thought it fit to know the Chairman of the CTCM at Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), but the witness said the position was a temporarily one by the Executive Director of CRIG and he needs not inform COCOBOD.

Counsel for Opuni suggested that if indeed the committee investigated fertilizers and agro-chemicals, then definitely, the CTCM, the body responsible for supervising the testing of these chemicals should be of interest to them but the witness disagreed, saying the investigative committee did not find it necessary.

Asked, whether the Committee invited Dr Franklin Amoah, the former Executive Director of CRIG, Mr Akrofi, Mr A.A Afrifa, then Head of the Soil Science Division of CRIG and Dr Arthur, the Scientist, who worked on the product, the witness answered in the affirmative.

Mr Cudjoe further asked the witness, why Mr Akrofi was invited and not the Chairman of the CTCM, One Dr Opoku Ameyaw but the witness indicated that Mr Akrofi was invited to the Committee not because of Lithovit testing but on another product tested.

Asked, whether Dr Amoah worked on the product, Dr Adu-Ampomah’s answered that “Dr Amoah did not work on the product but he is the Executive Director at the time, who had read through the final report of the testing, hence his invitation and also he signed the certificates.”

Counsel then asked the witness that if he claimed he investigated the concerns of renewal of certificate after 2014, he would have definitely called for files on letters on renewal but the witness disagreed saying the Committee did not call for the files on renewal letters but rather called for files containing renewal certificates.

“My Lord there is no need to ask for renewal letters, since the available documents indicated that no liquid fertilizer has ever been tested,” he added.

“I suggest to you that the Committee will have done an extensive and thorough investigation on Lithovit, if it had asked for basic and fundamental documents, which informed CRIG to renew the certificate for 2015/2016, especially, when it claimed the renewals are wrongful,” Counsel said, but the witness disagreed.

Dr Adu-Ampomah explained that the Committee thought that the relevant documents needed was the Material Safety Data Sheet and report submitted by the scientists, who tested the fertilizer and the two documents showed that the Lithovit was powdery.

“CRIG has never worked on liquid fertilizer,” he added.

Mr Cudjoe indicated to the witness that contrary to his theory on wild goose chase, the then Executive Director of CRIG and Cocoa Health and Extension Division have filed documents asking Agricult to pay for reassessment and re-evaluation of the Lithovit Liquid fertilizer but the witness disagreed.

The witness said the Committee found out that the first product sent to CRIG and tested was powdery as shown on the Material Safety Data Sheet and the report and that formed the bases for the issuance of the first certificate.

He said all other certificates would be based on the product first tested.

Asked, how COCOBOD got approval to purchase the Lithovit Liquid fertilizer in 2014, the witness said Dr Opuni wrote to Agricult for price quotation of 700,000 liters of Lithovit Liquid fertilizer on February 25, 2014 and on February 26, he got a reply as $27.5 per litre and on March 5, a contract was awarded to Agricult.

Mr Cudjoe asked, the witness, whether during their investigation into Lithovit, they also investigated contracts concerning Lithovit but the witness answered in the negative, adding, “That is why the Committee recommended that the matter be further investigated by the State security agencies.”

The trial was then adjourned to July 17 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 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.

Source: GNA

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