Wanting prosecution witness, Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah recoiled under cross-examination as he shied away from claims made during his evidence-in-chief that contracts between COCOBOD and Agricult Ghana Limited from 2014 to 2016 were investigated by a committee he headed.
The witness who has been caught in some instances contradicting himself, especially on sole-sourcing, has been testifying against the former CEO of COCOBOD Dr. Stephen Opuni and a businessman, Seidu Agongo, who are standing trial for allegedly causing financial loss of GHC271.3 million to the state which led to the distribution of ‘substandard fertiliser’ to cocoa farmers.
Dr. Adu-Ampomah was categorical during his evidence-in-chief on 20th May 2019, specifying three different contracts he claimed COCOBOD, under the first accused, awarded to Agricult Ghana Limited, the third accused, to supply Lithovit liquid fertilizer.
But when the case was called in court on Wednesday July 10 and being cross examined by Dr. Opuni’s lawyer, Samuel Cudjoe, Dr. Adu-Ampomah denied that COCOBOD investigated documents on the contracts from 2014 to 2016.
This is exactly what he said during the evidence-in-chief in May about the outcome of his committee’s “preliminary enquiry” into COCOBOD: “On the 5th of March, 2014 Cocobod awarded a contract to Agricult Ghana Ltd to supply 700,000 litres of Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer at a total cost of US$19,250,000. Then in 2015, the Chief Executive also awarded a contract to Agricult Ghana Ltd. to supply 1,000,000 litres of the Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer at a total cost of US$27,500,000 and then in 2016, the Chief Executive also ordered from Agricult 700,000 litres of Lithovit Fertilizer at a total cost of US$19,250,000 and then in end of 2016 had also ordered 1,000,000 litres of the Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer from the same company at a total cost of US$27,500,000 but there was no record at Cocobod indicating that any of such Liquid Lithovit Fertilizer had been tested by CRIG that is why we requested for the MSDS.”
The testimony on that day suggested that the Adu-Ampomah Committee he chaired had examined the contracts for 2014, 2015, 2016.
But when lawyer Samuel Cudjoe asked the witness on July 10, “Dr. during your investigation into lithovit, you also investigated the contracts concerning lithovit from 2014 to 2016.”
Dr. Adu-Ampomah answered, “No my Lord, that is why the committee stated that the matter should further be investigated.”
He was further asked, “But Dr. in fact you did see the contracts that is why you said a contract was awarded on the 5th March 2014.” The witness responded “yes my lord I saw the first contract”.
“On the 20th May 2018 of your further evidence in chief you stated ‘then on 5th of March 2014 the CEO of COCOBOD ordered lithovit to supply…’ as you did in your evidence in chief, you definitely would have seen the contracts,” he was asked.
“Yes my Lord but the question was did we investigate the contract, and I said no,” Dr. Adu-Ampomah said.
Interestingly, on May 14, 2019, in his evidence-in-chief, the prosecution asked him to “tell the court what you did when you saw all these [anomaly in the award of the contracts] at the transition”.
Dr. Adu-Ampomah who is a former Deputy Chief Executive at COCOBOD in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control told the court, “We asked the new management to investigate the anomalies in the testing and procuring of lithovit fertilizer. So when the new management took over, we started preliminary investigation.”
He was therefore asked by the prosecution “how the preliminary investigation was done and what happened”, which he replied “first we looked for report from CRIG on lithovit. We found that there was a report submitted to COCOBOD by three scientists called Dr. Arthur, Mr Dogbatse and A.A Afrifa and the report stated that the litovit fertilizer which was grayish powder has been tested on two weeks old cocoa seedlings.”
But on July 10 when he was told by lawyer Cudjoe that “if you saw the contracts, then you would know that all the contracts were sole sourced”.
His answer was “my lord, we didn’t investigate the contracts that is why we referred to the state security agency”.
Meanwhile, attempt by the counsel for the accused to tender in evidence an official letter from the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) was rejected by the court.
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).
The letter was addressed to Agricult Ghana Limited, asking it to pay for the reassessment and evaluation of “Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser”.
Although Dr. Adu-Ampomah told the court the document was signed by Dr Opoku Ameyaw, the trial judge, Justice Clemence Honyenuga ruled among others that in laying his foundation to tender the document, lawyer Cudjoe should have asked the witness if he was “familiar with the signature” of Dr. Opoku Ameyaw who is on retirement.
Below is excerpt from Wednesday’s proceedings
Q: So if CRIG was under you and Dr Amoah was the executive director, then you would have known Dr Opoku Ameyaw was his deputy director.
Ans: yes my Lord
Q: can you have a look at the letter? The letter is copied to who ?
Ans: it is copied to CEO, deputy CEO and deputy CEO F and A and deputy CEO ops.
Q: Dr, on this letter which you addressed to the executive director which was Dr Amoah. Isn’t it?
Ans: yes my Lord
Q: there is a minute too, what does it say?
Ans: chairman, CTCM [Committee for the Testing of Chemicals And Machinery]. referred for your necessary action.
Q: what is the meaning of the minute?
Ans: it means the committee should work on it.
Q: when you came to occupy the position of deputy CEO A and, QC ,Dr Opoku Ameyaw was no more at crig.is it?
Ans: my Lord, I can’t recollect but it is possible.
Q: But at the time you were conducting your investigation during the transition and also when you took over as deputy CEO A and QC, Dr Opuku Ameyaw was not at CRIG.
Ans: my Lord as I said I can’t recollect.
Q: But when you assumed your position in 2017, of course as the supervising head of CRIG, you held meeting with the very top directors.
Ans: the directors yes but not deputy directors.
Q: when you were the deputy CEO in 2017, who were the deputy directors at CRIG?
Ans: my Lord there was Rev. Dr Odoi as one of the deputy directors and if my memory serves me right, there was vacancy in the second position.
Q: and the time you assumed in 2017, Dr Odoi was the chairman of the CTCM? isn’t it?
Ans: no my lord. I wouldn’t know.
Q: Dr, so when you conducted all your investigation on some agro based chemicals and fertilizers, you never deemed it fit to know the chairman of the CTCM?
Ans: my lord, the chairman of the CTCM is not a permanent position. It is appointed by the discretion of the executive director and needs not involved in cocoa board.
Q: if you investigated agro chemicals and fertilizer, then the CTCM which is the body which supervises the testing of agro chemical and fertilizer should definitely have been of interest to you.
Ans: No my lord. the investigative committee didn’t find it necessary.
Q: At least Dr, when you were conducting your investigation, exhibit A which is a letter you wrote forwarding lithovit was a document you had to consider.
Ans: yes my Lord
Q: and in fact in your evidence in chief, you said the letter was written by COCOBOD through you.
Ans: yes my lord
Q: so in your investigation, you saw exhibit A.
Ans: yes my Lord
Q: so if you saw exhibit A, then you would definitely have seen referred to chairman of CTCM.
Ans: yes my Lord
Q: Dr, you definitely have seen that the lithovit was minuted to the head of soil science division. Which also minuted it to Dr Alfred Arthur, isn’t it?.
Ans; my lord, on this exhibit yes it has been referred to the soil science and also to various people whose name I can’t recap.
Q: Dr, should I take it that it is only today that you have seen this writing in spite of the fact that you conducted investigation on lithovit.
Ans: my lord no but the committee was interested in knowing whether the letter written on 15th of May to CRIG was worked on by the appropriate people and the minutes here shows that the right people were made to work on it.
Q: Dr, you invited Dr Amoah who this letter was addressed to the Adu-Ampomah committee, isn’t it?
Ans: yes my Lord
Q: you also invited Dr Akrofi who also appeared before the committee. He is number three on the list.
Ans: yes my Lord
Q: you also invited number four, the head of soil science division who was Mr. A. A Afrifa, isn’t it.
Ans; yes my Lord
Q: and number five is Dr Arthur which your committee stated worked on the product.
Ans: yes my Lord
Q: But you didn’t invite the chairman of the CTCM who is number two and executive director.
Ans: no my lord, the committee did not find it necessary to invite the chairman of the CTCM. Mr Akrofi was not invited because of lithovit. the committee called scientists who worked on lithovit but Mr Akrofi appeared before the committee on a different product precisely fungicides which he has worked on
Q: Dr, if you say the committee didn’t find it necessary to invite the chairman of the CTCM who is minuted as number two on the letter, you as committee would ask for the identity of the chairman of the CTCM.
Ans: my lord the committee was interested in the scientists who worked on the product.
Q: Did Dr Amoah worked on lithovit?
Ans: no my lord he didn’t work on it but he was the director who the final report was minuted to.
Q: Dr if as you claimed that your investigation also concerned the renewal of certificate of lithovit after 2014, you would have definitely called for all files on renewal of lithovit.
Ans: No the committee didn’t see the need to call for files, the committee called for the certificate.
Q: don’t you think it is very basic and elementary to be aware that renewal is done yearly.
Ans: my lord the MSDS accompanying the first sample that was sent to crig revered that the product was powder and also the evaluation report also indicated that it was powder whereas there was no report indicating that it was liquid and so there was no need for renewal letter.
Q: so do I understand you to mean the committee didn’t call for any renewal letters from 2014 to 2016?
Ans: No my lord, there was no need because no report has indicated there was any liquid product.
Q: don’t you think you would have done extensive and thorough investigation if you had ask for basic and fundamental documents on lithovit for 2014,2015 and 2016 when you believed the renewal was wrongful.
Ans: my lord the committee thought that the MSDS and the evaluation report was the most important which these two have shown the product was powder from the first sample that was sent
Q: in fact Dr, if you had requested for all correspondence concerning lithovit, you would have known that in CRIG, they asked for the renewal of lithovit liquid fertilizer.
Ans: my lord, the committee did not want to go into a wild goose chase because there was no document to show that CRIG can ever work on lithovit liquid fertilizer.
Q: Dr, contrary to your theory of wild goose chase, the directors of CRIG and CHED which are all divisions of COCOBOD which was under you have filed documents on 11th June 2018 addressed to third accused asking it to pay for the re assessment and evaluation of litovit liquid fertilizer.
Ans: No my lord, the committee found that the first product that was sent to CRIG was powder as shown on the MSDS and evaluation report that formed the basis of the first certificate of which all other certificate will be based on the first sample. The product was powder from beginning so there was no need.
Q: in exhibit 33 and 34, they all state that the contracts were sole sourced.
Ans: my lord I have said over and over again that some of the chemicals are through sole source because of technical reason.
Q: if you look at the last page of exhibit 34, Louis Dreyfus stated that they acknowledged receipt of request of quotation.
Ans: my lord as I said we convince PPA that due to technical reasons we need it.
Q: Dr, do you say COCOBOD writes to PPA before sole sourced chemicals and executing same?
Ans: yes my Lord.
The case has been adjourned to 17th July for continuation.