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Claims that lithovit is worthless should be treated with contempt – COCOBOD Fmr Dir. of Finance

Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, the Supreme Court judge in the trial of Dr. Stephen Opuni and Seidu Agongo was delivered a subtle blow in his own court for his description of lithovit liquid fertilizer as a worthless product.

A former Director of Finance at COCOBOD, Charles Tetteh Dodoo took a swipe at the judge on Monday, admonishing the public to treat his claims with the contempt it deserves.

 

 

 

Justice Honyenuga who is presiding over the 4-year-old criminal case at the High Court had described lithovit liquid fertilizer bought by COCOBOD between 2014 and 2016 as worthless and adulterated in one of his rulings.

In his ruling on the submission of no case on May 7, 2021, Justice Honyenuga wrote on page 59 that “It is in evidence that these colossal amounts were paid through the 1st accused as the CEO of COCOBOD to the 2nd and 3rd accused who supplied Lithovit liquid fertilizer which was not tested nor approved by COCOBOD and which scientific report which PW5 tendered as exhibit H reports from the Ghana Standard Authority and University of Ghana Chemistry Department that the foliar liquid fertilizer is worthless.”

On page 60, he further stated that Lithovit “was an adulterated product and therefore could not have been the tested and approved product from Germany.”

But responding to questions under cross-examination on Monday, Mr. Dodoo was emphatic that the claims should be disregarded.

The witness was a member of COCOBOD’s board of directors as well as the Entity Tender Committee that considered and approved the purchase of lithovit liquid fertilizer between 2014 and 2016.

“Sir, what will be your reaction if it was suggested that in buying and paying for Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser, COCOBOD paid for a worthless product for which it received no value,” Nutifafa Nutsukpui, counsel for Seidu Agongo asked the witness.

“My Lord, I will treat it with the contempt that it deserves,” Mr. Dodoo parried.

He said lithovit was recommended to the management and board by scientists from CRIG, whose credibility were not in doubt.

He told the court that when lithovit was delivered to the warehouse, he ensured it was inspected and confirmed that the product delivered was what COCOBOD requested and was fit for purpose.

The witness added that COCOBOD did not receive any farmer complaints about lithovit, neither did CRIG scientists record any adverse findings against lithovit liquid fertilizer supplied by Agricult Ghana Limited.

He said it was based on the efficacy of lithovit that COCOBOD ordered and bought the fertilizer in the subsequent cocoa seasons.

Mr. Dodoo confirmed in court that he was convinced Agricult honoured its part of the agreement with COCOBOD, which influenced his decision to authorize the accounts department of COCOBOD to process all payments to the company.

Meanwhile, the witness has discredited claims by the CID investigator in the trial, Chief Inspector Thomas Prempeh Mercer, that the ETC and board members did not know what they were doing when they approved the procurement of Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser.

“My Lord, this assertion is not correct and it is an affront to the members of the ETC.

“If I may go further, CRIG has inspectors who follow up to the field and report on the performance of the various agrochemicals being applied on the field. There was not any single instance where an adverse report was made on Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser which would have informed the ETC’s approval of further purchases of Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser over the years.”

The former Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Dr. Stephen Opuni, businessman Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited – First, Second and Third Accused Persons respectively – are facing about 25 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, willfully causing financial loss to the state, corruption by public officers and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

Read excerpts of Monday’s proceedings

Q. Please confirm to the court that between 2014 and 2016 when you served on the ETC, as far as you can recall, all fertilisers that were purchased by Cocobod and paid for went through the ETC approval process?

A. Yes, my Lord.

Q. Now, sir, between 2014 and 2016, while you served on the ETC, did Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser also receive the concurrent approval of the ETC as far as you can recall?

A. Yes, my Lord.

Q. Now, please confirm to the court whether any supplier ever determined the agenda for the meetings for the ETC while you served on it between 2014 and 2016.

A. No, my Lord, it never happened.

Q. And when Cocobod is procuring for the season, it procures the agrochemicals that are determined by the scientist as required for application for that particular season. That is correct?

A. Yes, my Lord but I want to add that more specifically by the CODAPEC HI-TECH Unit.

Q. You told this court that the CODAPEC HI-TECH Unit was made up of scientists from CRIG. Is that correct?

A. Yes, my Lord.

Q. And it is these scientists that determined the agrochemicals, including fertilisers and their prices which Cocobod must procure for any particular season.

A. Yes, my Lord, up to 2013/2014 financial year.

Q. Now, these scientists are the only persons who will determine the suitability of any agrochemicals including fertilisers for use on cocoa.

A. Yes, my Lord, in conjunction with CRIG.

Q. Now, this determination of suitability of agrochemicals for use on cocoa is not made by the Board or Management of Cocobod; that is correct?

A. Yes, my Lord.

Q. While you served on the Board between 2014 and 2015, the Board had no reason to doubt the integrity of these scientists?

A. No, my Lord, the Board had no reasons to doubt the integrity of these scientists.

Q. As a result, the Board will not question a recommendation made by these scientists to procure particular agrochemicals; that is correct?

A. Yes, my Lord.

Q. And, sir, because of the process of recommendation by the scientists, no individual board member or individual member of management could have gotten Cocobod to procure a particular fertiliser outside of these recommended by the scientists. Is that correct?

A. Yes, my Lord, nothing of that to my knowledge.

Q. And, in fact, Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser got recommended by the scientists for procurement, as far as you are aware. That is correct?

A. Yes, my Lord.

Q. Now, sir, it was suggested in this court by PW7 on the 1st of March 2021 that when both the ETC, on which you served as well as the Board approved the procurement of Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser, they did not know what they were doing. What do you say to that?

A. My Lord, this assertion is not correct and it is an affront to the members of the ETC. If I may go further, CRIG has inspectors who follow up to the field and report on the performance of the various agrochemicals being applied on the field. There was not any single instance where an adverse report was made on Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser which would have informed the ETC’s approval of further purchases of Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser over the years.

Q. Now, sir, from 2014 to 2016, would you remember whether the Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser was bought by Cocobod and applied by the farmers in all of the cocoa seasons of those years?

A. My Lord, any time Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser was procured, I have personally signed letters to haulage companies for the distribution of Lithovit Liquid Fertilisers from various warehouses to the district offices and they have been utilised.

Q. Sir, what will be your reaction if it was suggested that in buying and paying for Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser, Cocobod paid for a worthless product for which it received no value.

A. My Lord, I will treat it with the contempt that it deserves.

angelonline.com

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