The Appeals Court is set to hear a motion asking for a stay of proceedings at the High Court that rejected a document that “contradicts and shatters the entire [state’s] case” against former COCOBOD CEO, Dr. Stephen Opuni.
The document in question is a letter addressed to Agricult Ghana Limited, asking it to pay for the reassessment and evaluation of “Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser” in 2014.
The document, titled: “Renewal of CRIG certificate for pesticides, fertilisers and spraying machines for January to December 2015” was signed by the then Deputy Executive Director of CRIG, Dr Opoku Ameyaw, who also doubled as the Chairman of the Committee for the Testing of Chemicals and Machinery (CTCM).
Dr. Stephen Opuni and a businessman, Seidu Agongo, are standing trial for allegedly causing financial loss of GHC271.3 million to the state which the Attorney General claimed led to the distribution of “substandard fertilizer” to cocoa farmers.
The state had argued that lithovit fertilizer tested during the tenure of the first accused at COCOBOD was powdery in nature and not liquid which was bought under Dr, Opuni.
Prosecution witnesses had testified before the High Court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenuga, denying the existence of any document suggesting that COCOBOD and for that matter Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) tested any lithovit liquid fertilizer, let alone renew it.
But later when the letter dated November 20, 2014 and filed in court by CRIG emerged, contradicting the position of the state, the Attorney General successfully blocked it from being tendered in evidence through third prosecution witness, Dr. Adu-Ampomah a former deputy CEO at COCOBOD on July 10, 2019.
This is an official document from CRIG, the scientific division of COCOBOD which tested lithovit and describing the product as “lithovit liquid fertilizer”.
The witness was categorical in his evidence-in-chief in May that “there was no record at Cocobod indicating that any of such Liquid Lithovit Fertilizer had been tested by CRIG”.
The accused therefore appealed against the rejection of the document and therefore filed for a stay of proceedings but the High Court declined the request.
The appellant therefore argued in his affidavit in support of the latest motion at the Appeals Court that “if proceedings are not stayed and the trial is allowed to proceed, I would suffer irreparable hardship in that this letter is a crucial document on which the case revolves and by rejecting same the High Court would not consider same.
“I would thus be denied the benefit of this letter which contradicts and shatters the entire case against me,”
WITNESS’ LETTER TO CRIG
Meanwhile, there is document that has been tendered in evidence in which prosecution witness, Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah wrote to CRIG requesting the renewal of Agricult Ghana Limited certificate on Lithovit fertilizer barely two months after he himself has recommended investigation into product the state considered “substandard”.
The witness who was in charge of agronomy and quality control as Deputy CEO at COCOBOD and now works as the special advisor to the minister of agriculture on cocoa affairs has been caught in some instances contradicting himself, especially on sole-sourcing.
Meanwhile, hard drives in the High Courts including the one hearing Dr. Opuni’s case have been stolen from system units of computers used for recording and storing Court records and proceedings.
Proceedings into the trial was there hampered when the case was recalled on October 7.
However, since an appeal has been filed at the Appellate court, Dr. Opuni’s case was adjourned to 13th November.
The Appeals Court will hear the motion for stay of proceedings on November 7.