Witness in Opuni trial names farmers who drank liquid fertilizer

Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, the third prosecution witness in the trial of Dr Stephen Opuni, the former CEO of COCOBOD and one other on Thursday mentioned names of some farmers, who drank the Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer.

They are Nana Obeng Akrofi, the Eastern Regional Chief Farmer of the Cocoa, Coffee and Shea Farmers Association of Ghana and one Emmanuel Obeng.

Dr Adu-Ampomah was answering questions in a further cross-examination by Mr Nutifafa Nutsukpui, Counsel for Seidu Agongo, the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, who is the second accused in the trial in Accra on Thursday.

The counsel pointed to the witness that there was no user complaints on lithovit fertilizer from any Unit or Divisions of COCOBOD but the witness disagreed.

Dr Adu-Ampomah said nobody had complained from the units and the division, because for COCOBOD to ascertain the efficacy of a fertilizer, CRIG or Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) will have to test but since CRIG was implicated the samples were sent to GSA.

Counsel pointed to the witness that Nana Akrofi, only made a complaint in a statement to Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) about the ineffectiveness of the fertilizer, but the witness disagreed.

Mr Nutsukpui said Nana Akrofi only complained per his statement that he mainly harvest 50 bags of cocoa from a 10-acre farm but having applied the Lithovit fertilizer, he only got 52 as such he did not find the fertilizer effective as the COCOBOD extension officers claimed, but the witness disagreed again.

The witness said Nana Akrofi came to me to complain that the Lithovit fertilizer was so ineffective and that when they go to the farm and there was no water, they could drink it, hence he directed them to report to EOCO.

The Counsel suggested to the witness that none of these individuals told him they drank the lithovit liquid fertilizer, but the witness disagreed, saying that was why he directed them to EOCO.

“Nana Akrofi came to me to complain that the Lithovit fertilizer was so ineffective and when they go to the farm and there is no water, they can drink it,” he added.

Mr Nutsukpui also pointed to the witness that Emmanuel Obeng indicated that Lithovit liquid fertilizer was very good for both young and matured cocoa, but Dr Adu-Ampomah disagreed saying “otherwise l will not have directed them to EOCO.”

The Counsel asked the witness whether he knew one Dr William Mensah and Dr F.M Amoah, which he answered in the affirmative.

He asked the witness, whether he could recall that in Feb, 2017, he held a meeting with these gentlemen at COCOBOD, the witness said that in February, he held a series of meetings, so it could be possible.

Mr Nutsukpui said in that particular meeting, they discussed the efficacy of Lithovit liquid fertilizer and Acati power, but the witness said “as l said, we were conducting investigations with scientists so it is possible.”

The Counsel emphasised that it was in this particular meeting that Dr Mensah introduced the story of farmers drinking the fertilizer, do you recall? But the witness disagreed.

He suggested to the witness that he had ‘procured’ these two individuals to do his bidding, but he disagreed.

Mr Nutsukpui asked the witness whether from his experience as a scientist, urea could be drank, and he answered in the negative.

He said the report from Ghana Standards Authority finds 14 per cent of urea in the Lithovit, EOCO submitted for testing and he agreed.

Counsel again asked the witness whether urea generate an offensive smell but the witness said urea smells like urine.

”So, you want the court to believe that farmer drink something that smells like urine,” he asked and the witness said that was what l was told, hence the direction to EOCO.

When asked again that as a scientist, was it possible for someone to drink a compound solution, which has 14.6 per cent urea as water, but Dr Adu-Ampomah , that was what he was told.

Mr Nutsukpui asked whether, he thought EOCO has the power to judge, that was why he sent them there but the witness said “l thought EOCO will help investigate with appropriate authorities, hence me sending them there.”

The Counsel asked whether, he was aware farmers were full of praises for the use of Lithovit captured in the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) report on field visits but the witness answered in the negative.

He aksed whether the witness have seen any of the reports that capture these complaints, but the witness said the committees never found any report and that there was no document available to COCOBOD.

Counsel suggested to the witness that the only recorded complaint about Lithovit liquid Fertilizer anywhere was in the statement, the witness ‘procured’ Nana Obeng Akrofi, also a Board Member of COCOBOD to make at EOCO, but the witness disagreed saying the GSA report also indicated that the product has negligible proportion of the active ingredients.

The Case has been adjourned to February 11 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.

This has to do with fertilizers acquired by COCOBOD during the tenure of Dr Opuni as Chief Executive Officer of the state entity

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

Source: GNA

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