The then Director of Finance at COCOBOD, under whose tenure COCOBOD purchased Lithovit fertilizer, has rubbished claims by the prosecution that the contracts did not follow normal procedure.
Charles Tetteh Dodoo who served on the board of COCOBOD for over six years was emphatic that nothing untoward happened in any of the contracts awarded to Agricult Ghana Limited for the supply of Lithovit fertilizer between 2014 and 2016.
The witness was giving his final evidence in chief in the trial of former COCOBOD Chief Executive Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo who are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, willfully causing financial loss to the State, corruption by public officers and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
Dodoo told the court on Monday that claims by the prosecution that the contract for the supply of lithovit did not follow the normal procedure, “is not correct”.
He asserted, “Contracts for the supply of lithovit followed the processes and procedures like all other contracts. There has not been any special treatment for the Lithovit contracts. Lithovit contracts have been processed like any other agrochemicals in COCOBOD from the inception of the contracts to the seeking of approval from PPA through to the performance bonds and preparation of contracts documents and being signed and witnessed have been the same for all other products.
“My Lord, I want to add that nothing untoward had been done on the contracts for the supply of Lithovit.”
Under examination by the lead counsel for Dr Opuni, Samuel Codjoe, the first defence witness mentioned other agrochemical contracts that were purchased together with lithovit at the same period and showed that they all went through the same procedure in an identical manner.
Dodoo who has a direct supervisory role over the Procurement Unit of COCOBOD told the court that all contracts including those for Lithovit were prepared by the Procurement Unit but signed by the Chief Executive as the norm.
“We have no controversy in either the pricing, form or the substance,” the former Director of Finance noted about the purchase of Lithovit fertilizer.
Excerpts of Monday’s proceedings
Q: can you have a look at this? What document is this?
Ans : my Lord I have the contract for the supply from Sidalco liquid fertiliser.
Q: who signed this contract?
Ans : the document was signed by A1 and witnessed by myself.
Q: what is the date of this contract?
Ans : 17th February, 2015.
Q: what do you want to do with it?
Ans: my Lord I like to tender this document.
Prosecution: my Lord we have no objection.
Judge: document is admitted into evidence and marked as exhibit 95.
Q: who prepared exhibit 95?
Ans : procurement unit of Ghana Cocoa Board.
Q: How did you know about this?
Ans : I witnessed the contract.
Q: who put the documents attached together?
Ans : my Lord the pro forma invoice from sidalco limited clearly gives direction as to who takes action, and it ends with the procurement manager. Also to show that it is the procurement unit that prepared and put all the documents together, you have the procurement stamp at all the pages.
Q: you have in your hands exhibit BB; it is a contract for the supply of lithovit liquid fertiliser.
Ans : yes my lord.
Q: who witnessed it ?
Ans : myself
Q: who signed it?
Ans : A1.
Q: who put together the contract?
Ans : the procurement unit as the stamps indicate.
Q: was this the only contract entered into?
Ans : no my Lord, around the same time similar contracts of the same kind were awarded to other companies.
Q: can you have a look at these documents? What documents do you have in your hands?
Ans : my Lord, three other contracts to three different companies for the supply of various types of fertilisers to Ghana Cocoa Board.
Q: what do you want to do with these documents?
Ans : my Lord, I like to tender them.
Q: what are the companies?
Ans : one is Seyi Jones limited, ABP limited and Sidalco limited.
Prosecution: my Lord, we have no objection.
Judge: by court documents tendered and marked as exhibits 96 for sidalco limited, 97 for ABP and 98 for Seyi Jones limited respectively.
Q: who prepared exhibits 96,97 and 98 respectively.
Ans : procurement unit.
Q : who awarded the contracts?
Ans : COCOBOD.
Q: Now can you look at exhibit BB, Who witnessed it?
Ans : myself.
Q: who signed it ?
Ans : A1.
Q: Can you confirm that exhibit 96,97 and 98 followed the same procedure as exhibit BB?
Ans : yes my lord, all the contracts in exhibit 96,97 and 98 follow the same procedure around the same time. There is nothing special about exhibit 96 to 97 that is different from exhibit BB.
Q : can you look at page 4 of exhibit Bb, that is the quotation from Agricult.
Ans : yes my lord, and there are instructions there on entities and what they were supposed to do .so we have numbers 2,3and 4 that goes to the procurement unit.
Q : what does note 4 say.
Ans : the procurement manager please FYINA in abbreviation (for your information and necessary action) and we have prepared PPA documents with appropriate attachments for CE’s action.
Q : can you explain that to the court?
Ans: my Lord this requires the procurement unit to write a letter seeking approval to the PPA based on the quotation received. And that letter will have attachments which includes CRIG certificate, Tax clearance certificate, SSNIT clearance certificate and the company’s registration document.
Q: who signed the PPA letter?
Ans : it is A1.
Q: why is it so?
Ans : it is a letter of significance from cocoa board to PPA.
Q : Did you see the letter to PPA with respect to application to sole source lithovit in 2015?
Ans : yes my lord I did
Q: can you turn to page 24 of DD, that is notification of contract award. who put this together ?
Ans : procurement unit, my Lord, ones again on the face of the document, there are clear instructions with minute number 4 asking the procurement manager to deal with the document.
Q: Now Mr Doodo, can you now look at exhibit 96,97 and 98 whether it followed the same procedures as exhibit DD.
Ans : my Lord, it followed the same procedure as minute number 4 and myself asking the procurement unit to deal with the letter.
Q: which letter?
Ans : sidalco’ s letter of acceptance of notification.
Q: do you have the quotation from sidalco?
Ans : yes my lord.
Q: can you tell us whether the quotation from sidalco followed the same procedure as exhibit DD.
Ans : .my lord it is the same.
Q: when you say the same, did you say the letter to PPA followed the same procedure?
Ans : yes my lord, the form at note 4 to PPA ask procurement manager to take necessary action, prepare PPA documents.
Q: what does this mean?
Ans : procurement unit will prepare a letter to PPA seeking approval to sole source sidalco fertiliser, quantity and price and attach to the letter to PPA CRIG certificate, SSNIT certificate, business registration certificate.
Q : can you tell the court whether exhibit 96,97 which are all fertiliser contracts followed the same procedure as exhibit DD.
Ans: my Lord ,I can confirm that all those exhibits followed the same procedure as exhibit DD.
Q : tell us date
Ans : my Lord, exhibit DD was signed on 31st December, 2015, exhibit 96 was signed on 9th December, 2015, exhibit 97 on the 8th November, 2015 and exhibit 98 was signed on 9th December, 2015.
Q : which crop year were these contracts for?
Ans : 2015/ 2016 season.
Q: can you look at exhibit DD, thus the second paragraph states that the purchaser sole sourced the supply of one million litres of litovit liquid fertiliser. You witnessed this contract isn’t it?
Ans : yes my lord.
Q: What do you say with respect to the prosecutions case that the contract for the supply of Lithovit did not follow the normal procedure?
Ans : my Lord, it is not correct, contracts for the supply of Lithovit followed the processes and procedures like all other contracts. There has not been any special treatment for the Lithovit contracts. Lithovit contracts have been processed like any other agrochemicals in COCOBOD. From the inception of the contract to the seeking of approval from PPA through to the performance bonds and preparation of contracts documents and it being signed and witnessed have been the same for all other products.
My Lord, I want to add that nothing untoward had been done on the contract for the supply of Lithovit.
Q: can you look at exhibit DD, thus the second paragraph states that the purchaser sole sourced the supply of one million litres of Lithovit liquid fertiliser. You witnessed this contract isn’t it?
Ans : yes my lord.
Q : do you know the nature of Lithovit?
Ans : yes my lord, it is liquid per the name and I have seen it in the warehouses.
Q: if you say the warehouses, which warehouses do you mean
Ans : COCOBOD warehouse in Spintex, COCOBOD warehouse in Nsawam.
Q : what do you have to say when the prosecution say the procurement of Lithovit was shrouded in controversy?
Ans : my Lord, I don’t understand the controversy about Lithovit. From where I sat as a board member and as director of finance directly in charge of procurement, as a member of the entity tender Committee, there hasn’t been any controversy about lithovit.
Q : when you say you sat on the entity tender Committee of COCOBOD, what did the entity tender Committee approved with respect to Lithovit.
Ans : the Committee had to give concurrent approval to all approvals from PPA and original approval to other contracts. So these approvals from the ETC would go to management for their implementation.
Q : you mentioned in your answer that there was no controversy about Lithovit.
Ans : yes, we have no controversy in either the pricing, form or the substance.
Q : can you have a look at exhibit X , it is a letter which was tendered by the prosecution and it concerned a PPA letter dated on 31st December 2015.
Ans : yes my lord, it is about the supply of Lithovit 700,000.liters.
Q: can you identify Ib8?
Ans : yes my lord, it is the supply of fertiliser from Seyi Jones limited at the same date. it is for Seyi Jones to supply 200,000 bags of organic fertiliser.
Q: what do you want to do with it.
Ans : I like to tender it.
Judge: Mr Codjoe your time is up do you have similar documents so we add all of them.
Samuel Codjoe: yes my lord I have few of them.
Judge: by court, documents are tendered marked exhibits 99,100 and 101, 102,103 ,104 and 105 respectively.
Q: Mr Charles Dodoo, exhibit x together with exhibit 99 to 105 were all written on the same day.
Ans : yes my lord.
Q: And they were copied to you.
Ans : yes my lord.
Q: who prepared the documents.
Ans : The procurement manager, Mrs Bernice Debra Ashun.
Samuel Codjoe: That will be all since you want me to end it.