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(Ghana) We Still Can’t Find Documents Opuni Requested – Cocobod Tells Court

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For the second time, a lawyer at the Ghana COCOBOD has told the Accra High Court that the documents Dr Stephen Opuni, a former Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD has requested for to defend himself in a case of alleged GH¢217 million financial loss to the state in a fertiliser deal can still not be found.

On December 16, 2018, Mr Johannes Velba, the Director of Legal Service at COCOBOD told the court that the documents Dr Opuni, the first accused and businessman, Mr Agongo requested had been tampered with.

Mr Velba said a committee had been set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding the tampering with and unavailability of documents.

But even before the committee completes with its investigations, the lawyer revealed that the committee had not been able to find the documents and also unravel the circumstances leading to its disappearance.

The Director of Legal Service who was observing proceedings told the court presided over by Justice Clement Honyenugah that final report on the work of the committee would be ready in two weeks time.

The accused, who pleaded not guilty to 29 charges of conspiracy to commit crime, abetment of crime, contravention of Public Procurement Authority regulation, among others, had already been granted self-recognisance bail of GH¢300,000 each.

The prosecution filed documents, which Mr Agongo requested to enable him to defend himself on December 16, 2018.

The documents include an invoice attached to a letter, dated November 20, 2014, an evaluation report of August 31, 2016 and report on analysis of two granular fertiliser samples submitted to the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, on October 24,

On December 18, 2018 Mr Benson Nutsukpui, counsel for Agongo, Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, told the court that prosecution had served him the documents, except a letter dated October 21, 2014.

It would be recalled that Mr Nutsukpui asked the court to order the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) to furnish his client with documents, which he said were crucial to the matter.

The CRIG subsequently served the documents on defence, but Mr Nutsukpui drew the attention of the court to ‘erasers, re-numbering and tempering with dates’ of filing on the documents.

Prosecuting, Mrs Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), said that on May 15, 2015, COCOBOD took a sample of Lithovit fertiliser to CRIG for testing and certification.

She said a draft report on the “effect” of Lithovit on cocoa seedlings was submitted to the head of Soil Science Division, upon which a final report recommended Lithovit to be applied to mature cocoa even though no field test had been conducted on the product.

Mrs Obuobisa revealed that Dr Opuni upon assumption of office as the Chief Executive of COCOBOD, directed contrary to established policy and standard practice that, the period for testing which takes six months be shortened.

She said that upon the direction of the former COCOBOD boss, no laboratory tests were conducted for the renewal of certificate for the use of Lithovit on cocoa.

Mrs Obuobisa said though Agricult Ghana Limited did not apply for the renewal of certificate as required, its certificate was renewed on the instructions of Dr Opuni.

She said on February 19, 2014, Dr Opuni applied to the Public Procurement Authority for Agricult Limited to be single sourced to procure 700,000 litres of Lithovit foliar fertiliser although conditions for single source had not been satisfied.

In addition, Dr Opuni was alleged to have stated the price for the 700,000 litres at $19,250,000 (GH¢43,120,000) though the substance sent for testing was in powdery form not liquid.

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