Crime

COCOBOD financial loss case: Witness unable to indicate quantity of fertiliser applied – Prosecution

Prosecution in the Dr Stephen KwabenaOpuni case, yesterday told the Accra High Court that MrKwekuAgyemang, a witness, could not state the quantity of lithovit liquid fertiliser applied to cocoa on his farm because he did not use the product.

The witness had already told the court presided over by Justice Clement Honyenugah that he applied lithovit to his cocoa farm and got bumper harvest.

But during cross-examination of the witness, Mrs Evelyn Keelson, a Chief State Attorney, asked him to tell the court the number of bottles of fertilizer he applied on his farm for the two years, he used the product. 

Below was what transpired in court. 

Attorney: Now, tell the court, in the two years that you were able to spray the farms six times every year, can you tell the court how many bottles you used for the two years?

Witness: My Lord, I do not recall the acres that were covered by particular litres for the two years, but I have records of the bottles we used and when I go through the records I can get it.

Attorney: Mr Agyemang, you are not able to tell this court how many bottles you used to spray the 18 acres of farm because you did not use the litovit fertiliser as you want the court to believe. 

Witness: My Lord, I applied the fertiliser on the 18 acres of my farm because the fertiliser wasn’t enough. My lord as I said earlier, I applied the fertiliser to the three farms. The first two years, I was able to apply it for the six rounds, but in the third year, it was only able to do four times. So in all the three years, I used 24 bottles. So counsel cannot say I don’t know.

Attorney: When you won the award in 2011,you hadn’t heard of litovit. Isn’t it?

Witness: That is so my Lord. 

Attorney: In 2011,you did not apply litovit on any of your farms. 

Witness: Yes, my lord. 

In March 2018, the Attorney-General charged Dr Opuni and Agongo with 27 counts for allegedly engaging in illegalities that caused financial loss of GH¢271.3 million to the state, and led to the distribution of sub-standard fertiliser to cocoa farmers.

Agongo is alleged to have used fraudulent means to sell sub-standard fertiliser to COCOBOD for onward distribution to cocoa farmers, while Dr Opuni is accused of facilitating the act by not allowing Agongo’s products to be tested and certified, as required by law.

The two accused have pleaded not guilty to all the 27 charges and are currently on bail in the sum of GH¢300,000 each.

 Justice Honyenugah, a Supreme Court (SC) judge, sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, was on July 28, barred from hearing the criminal case by a 3-2 majority decision of the SC over a possible bias against the accused.

But, an enhanced 4-3 majority decision upheld a review application filed by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, and asked Justice Honyenugah to continue proceedings.

Lawyers for Dr Opuni, who is a former Chief Executive of the Ghana COCOBOD, had accused the trial judge of bias for making pre-judicial comments and also excluding 18 documents (exhibits) tendered through a prosecution witness without objection.

BY MALIK SULLEMANA

Show More
Back to top button