AG’s witness exposes himself over COCOBOD fertilizer
A witness of the Attorney General, Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah beat a hasty retreat in court as he conceded to the fact that COCOBOD never advertised to solicit bids from the public in the purchase of fertilizers.
His current position is in sharp contrast with his long-held evidence that COCOBOD engages in competitive bidding throughout his testimony against former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo.
Dr. Adu-Ampomah who is currently an advisor to the agric minister on cocoa affairs had in his evidence-in-chief, told the court that the procurement practice at COCOBOD had always been through competitive tender, slamming claims by counsel for the accused that sole-sourcing was rather the normal practice.
But later under cross-examination, the third prosecution witness crumbled on his no-sole-source evidence after counsel for Dr. Opuni, Samuel Cudjoe bombarded him with several documents exposing the witness of personally participating in procurement processes at COCOBOD through sole-sourcing even before and after the tenure of the first accused.
Even after admitting to sole-sourcing, the witness who was a former Deputy Chief Executive at Cocobod in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control insisted that COCOBOD also advertised to get companies to supply it with fertilizers.
“Dr. Adu-Ampomah, when you said before purchases are made for fertilizer, it has to be advertised and specifying the product they required, you were not being truthful,” Samuel Cudjoe told him in May this year.
“My Lord I was being truthful,” he answered.
Still, under cross-examination, the Daily Guide newspaper in July also quoted Dr. Adu-Ampomah maintaining in court that “…in some instances adverts are placed in the papers. In some other times due to the peculiar nature of some chemicals, they are not but in general terms, you are supposed to do. But sometimes if it is explained to PPA it could be allowed without placing adverts in the papers”.
After a long break, proceedings resumed on November 7, 2019, with the witness reiterating his stance on procurement of fertilizers through advertisement in the dailies.
When Samuel Cudjoe reminded him that even the Procurement Manager at COCOBOD and others have told the police that all the fertilizers purchased by COCOBOD are sole-sourced and not advertised, Dr. Adu-Ampomah retorted, “my Lord that is not true. What pertains is what I just stated, that is depending on the circumstance it could be advertised or sole-sourced or known companies could be invited or restrictive tendering can be made.”
“I am putting it to you that in the entire life of COCOBOD, there has never been any occasion that the general public has been invited to bid for fertilizers by way of advertisement. It has never happened in any newspaper in Ghana,” counsel for Dr. Opuni asserted.
Dr. Adu-Ampomah tried to conveniently dodge the question by giving inconsequential and incoherent history about the prevailing circumstance when COCOBOD started purchasing fertilizers in the early 2000s but was stopped in his track by the trial judge, Justice Clemence Honyenugah who reminded him of the question asked by the counsel.
Sensing that he could be asked by the court to produce evidence of any advertisement done in the past by COCOBOD in buying fertilizers, the witness recoiled and said “for fertilizers, yes my lord”, admitting that no advertisement was ever done.
Procurement Unit and letters
Dr. Adu-Ampomah also admitted that all letters to companies asking for their best quotes and quantities are written by the Procurement Unit of COCOBOD but signed by the Chief Executive or in his absence the Deputy as he did during his time at COCOBOD.
“Dr. Adu-Ampomah as you did at your time, all these letters are sent to the entities after which they bring their best bid to COCOBOD,” the counsel asked which he responded in the affirmative, “yes my lord”.
He was further asked, “Dr. because the letters although written by the procurement department but signed by the CEO, the entities replying always addressed to the CEO or in his absence to the deputy as you have been doing.” He answered, “yes my Lord”.
Below are excerpts of the proceedings
Q: when the companies send their response by way of their best bids, sometimes the procurement department calls them to get best price quotation.
Ans: yes my Lord
Q: in fact, the companies’ sum of money and actual quantities to be purchased is attached to the letters to PPA for approvals for sole source.
Ans: yes my lord
Q: this COCOBOD letter to PPA for sole source is written by the procurement department but signed by the CEO and in some instances as you did by the deputy CEO.
Ans: yes my Lord
Q: and the approval letter from PPA also includes the exact amounts and quantities to be purchased.
Ans: yes my Lord.
DPP: my Lord, I was about to object because the questions are loaded. My Lord the witness is only here to assist us. he should not be intimidated.
Sam Cudjoe: my Lord, the DPP is rather intimidating us. She has the whole state apparatus supporting her.
Q: And after the approval, it is taken to the entity tender committee.
Ans: my Lord it is variable. sometimes it is like this and sometimes it is not, in this case it is the way you describe it.
Q: Dr in 2014, 2015 and 2016, all letters written to individual companies were written by the Procurement Unit and signed by Dr. Stephen Opuni.
Ans: my Lord I wasn’t there so I can’t tell.
Q: ok Dr Adu Ampomah, I am putting it to you that the letters you signed to the PPA when you returned in 2017 were written by the Procurement Unit.
Ans: yes my Lord
Q: in fact when you were deputy A and QC, you signed these letters which were all written by the procurement unit.
Ans: yes my Lord, some of them.
Q: Dr as you have already stated in your statement to the police and in your evidence-in-Chief, you should have known that letters written to Agricult are similar to those written to Wienco for Asase wura, for Sidalco liquid fertilizer and Chemico for cocofeed fertilizer.
Ans: my Lord since we came, we have written to them but not Agricult.
Q: I am putting it to you that you are aware that per your investigation, in 2014, 2015 and 2016 identical procurement letters were written to Wienco, Sidalco and Chemico to submit their best bid.
Ans: yes my Lord.
Court adjourned proceedings to November 13.
Dr. Stephen Opuni, as well as businessman Seidu Agongo and his company Agricult Ghana Limited, are standing trial for causing financial loss to the state.