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No ground to charge accused persons of fraud – Witness tells court

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Mr Peter Okyere Boateng, the sixth defence witness in the case involving Dr Stephen Opuni and two others, says he does not know the grounds of the alleged defrauding charges against the accused persons.

He said there was evidence that the money was used to procure lithovit liquid fertilizer for distribution to farmers in cocoa growing areas.

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 self-recognisance bail each.

He also said there was evidence to show that after the application the farmers had high yields, which increased their income.

“The money used to procure lithovit fertilizer was efficiently used, therefore, there cannot be any defrauding in this issue,” he added.

“I do not know whether the product texted by the Chemistry Department of the University is the same product that the farmers applied on their farm.”

The witness said every COCOBOD policy or agrochemical introduced was used by the farmers, so it was the farmers who could confirm its workability, or the efficiency of any product given to them.

“My Lord, Cocoa farmers are end users of every policy or every agro chemical released by COCOBOD, therefore, l maintained that the agrochemical texted may not be the same used by the farmers,” he said.

He said the report he compiled after his field visits together with other team members had some recommendations for the management of COCOBOD, which included the purchase of additional quantities of the lithovit liquid fertilizer to add to the 700, 000 liters already purchased for farmers and that the following year, the Management purchased 1million liters of the fertilizer.

The witness said the official position of COCOBOD, when he was then the Deputy Executive Director of CHED, was that the product was very good, with the potential to assist farmers increase their yields and subsequently their finances.

“I said so because, the report l compiled and forwarded to the Management carried information about the efficiency of lithovit as was observed by all the team members that went into all the Cocoa Regions as well as the praises that the farmers shower on the efficacy of the fertilizer after application,” he said.

The Court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenugah, a Supreme Court Justice, sitting as an additional High Court Judge, said in pursuance of Article 112(2) of the Constitution, the Chief Justice had granted him limited time to conclude the case and that the Court would now sit four days a week.

In view of the pending vacation, the case has been adjourned to Oct 3, 2022, for continuation.

Source: GNA

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