It has been revealed in court that, the claim by the Director of Finance of COCOBOD, Peter Osei Amoako that all fertilizers purchased by COCOBOD, have to go through a minimum of two years of testing was inaccurate as COCOBOD’s own document thrashed his assertion.
A report filed by a Catholic Priest, Rev. Father E.K.O. Oddoye, a scientist and works at the Cocoa Research Institute (CRIG) in the Eastern Region, as the Deputy Executive Director on the assertion pointed out that witness’ stance on testing of chemicals, was false.
It is unclear, whether the Catholic Priest, who authored a response to a query sent him by the management of COCOBOD on the protocols for testing chemicals at CRIG, will be called by the prosecution to speak on the subject aside the claims by the Director of Finance of COCOBOD, who is not a scientist.
It was also discovered in court that, the 6th prosecution witness himself appended his signature as a witness when COCOBOD purchased three different fertilizers in 2018 that did not go through the two-year testing regime he professed. One of the fertilizers was not even tested at all, the court heard.
Testifying in the ongoing trial of former COCOBOD boss, Dr. Stephen Opuni and CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, Seidu Agongo, Peter Amoako, in his evidence in chief, said COCOBOD terminated the 2016/17 contract with Agricult for the supply of Lithovit fertilizer, because the product did not meet the minimum two years testing period.
Whilst under cross-examination, the witness stuck to his gun as he repeatedly told the court presided over Justice Jackson Clemence Honyenuga that the official testing period at CRIG, a division under COCOBOD, was two years minimum.
But on Monday November 30, 2020, still, under cross-examination, stand-in lead counsel for Seidu Agongo, lawyer Nutifafa Nutsukpui, showed the witness the outcome of an investigation conducted by COCOBOD in 2017 on matters relating to testing of agrochemicals, which is an exhibit in court.
Queries were sent to scientists at CRIG to find out what the testing protocols were.
In response as contained in Exhibit 70, Rev. Father E.K.O. Oddoye, a Catholic Priest who works as the Deputy Executive Director of CRIG pointed out his outfit’s stance on testing of chemicals, which the witness was made to read out in court:
“Your memo dated 20th September 2017 on the above subject refers. There are no laid down protocols as such with the advent of testing of chemicals and machines at CRIG, scientists in the various scientific divisions involve their own protocols based on standard scientific proceedings. These methods differ in various scientific divisions and have not been static. They are reviewed from time to time based on inputs from the Ghana Cocoa Board.”
The witness was also shown Exhibit 41 which talks about a contract between COCOBOD and Omnifert fertilizer.
The documents indicated that a sample of Omnifert was received for testing on 16th February 2017 and by 19th May 2017 a confirmation was sent to COCOBOD by CRIG that Omnifert could be used on matured cocoa only after laboratory verification.
Lawyer Nutsukpui, pointed out to the witness that from 16th February 2017 to 19th May 2017 did not meet the two-year testing protocol and for that matter was not tested on seedlings before the recommendation, but Peter Amoako disagreed.
The witness, Peter Osei Amoako, was also shown another exhibit detailing a contract on the purchase of Cocoa Nti fertilizer in 2018 when there was no proof that the product had even been tested by CRIG before.
CRIG’s “final report on Cocoa Nti Fertilizer” in 2016 stated emphatically that it has no records that COCOBOD submitted Cocoa Nti fertilizer to CRIG for testing.
The witness tried to contest that and was made to read out that report dated 21st November 2016 which stated in part, “…there is no record (evidence) at CRIG to support the assertion of the authors that a test of fertilizer combination was concluded in 2014/15…”
Meanwhile, Peter Osei Amoako has told the court that prior to the purchase of Lithovit fertilizer for the 2014/15 cocoa season, the legal department of COCOBOD validated the contract as being legal before COCOBOD entered into that contract with Agricult Ghana Limited.
Find excerpts of the cross-examination below:
A: My Lord, working with Cocobod for 16 years what I know front CRIG is a testing period for a minimum of two years.
Q: I am putting it to you that there is no such minimum requirement for the testing of fertilizer at CRIG.
A: My Lord, that is the minimum numbers of years I know from CRIG.
Q: And certain situations CRIG does not even find it needful to test fertilizers, I am putting that to you.
A: My Lord, I am not aware of that.
Q: Sir, have you ever heard of Cocoa Yield Liquid Fertilizer.
A: No, My Lord.
Q: You see Cocobod by a letter dated 31st May 2017 and referenced DCE/AQC/FT/CG/50 forwarded a product by name Cocoa Yield Liquid Fertilizer for testing. You might be aware, Sir.
A: My Lord, that name is not familiar to me.
Q: You see on the 8th of June 2017, CRIG responded stating that because the formulation of the Cocoa Yield Fertilizer was similar to the formulation of Sidalco Balance and Lifert A liquid fertilizers which it had already approved it did not find it necessary to continue