Dr. Opuni trial takes a new twist

Crime & Punishment Dr. Opuni trial takes a new twist
MAR 30, 2021 LISTEN

There has been a new twist to the trial the Dr Stephen Opuni, a former Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), and two others.

The latest devepment is that all the accused have opted to file a submission of no case in their trial for defrauding by false pretences and willfully causing financial loss to the State.

They have also been accused of money laundering, corruption by public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

The prosecution has closed its case and did called 14 witnesses during the trial which had been adjourned to April 19, 2021.

At the sitting, the seventh prosecution witness said their investigations were not on inauguration of Board of COCOBOD and budget allocations.

Police Detective Chief Inspector, Thomas Prempeh Mercer, the investigator, said they had proven their case.

The investigator had presented to the court, invoices and receipts from 2016 and 2017 for the renewal of certificates for Lithovit fertilizer.

The witness during cross-examination by Mr Nutifafa Nutsukpui, Counsel for Seidu Agongo, CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, said he did not find out whether the Board was inaugurated between 2014 and 2016.

He said, the investigation team did not find out the consolidated budget from 2014 to 2016.

The investigator told the court that every investigation was premised on something and that the investigations by the CID and the Financial Forensics Unit were on the Lithovit follar fertilizer.

He said Seidu Agongo and his Company, Agricult Ghana Limited, introduced to COCOBOD, Lithovit fertilizer, which was forwarded to Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) for testing.

The witness said even the final report forwarded by the lead Counsel, one Afrifa to COCOBOD at the time was allegedly forged by him on the directives of Dr Opuni.

Chief lnspector Mercer said the final report projected that the fertilizer should be used on matured cocoa but Mr Agongo and his Company supplied Lithovit liquid fertilizer, which was not tested.

"That is the bases for our investigations," he said.

The Counsel asked the witness whether he was aware of a visit by the investigative team to the manufacturer, Tribodyn Company, and he answered in the affirmative.

The investigator said the purpose of the visit was to ascertained from the manufacturer, whether lithovit was powder or liquid.

"Lithovit had always been powder," he said.
Mr Nutsukpui pointed to the witness that the only reason why the report from the visit was not in evidence was that it did not support their case but the witness disagreed.

Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges including defrauding by false pretences, willfully causing financial loss to the State, money laundering, corruption by public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 self-recognizance bail, each.

The case was adjourned to April 19, 2021.