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18.04.2019 General News

No Expiry Date On Opuni Fertilizer

Staff Writer
News Dr. Stephen Opuni
APR 18, 2019 GENERAL NEWS

Fresh details have emerged regarding the controversial Agricult Fertilizer for which the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo have been hauled before an Accra High Court.

It has emerged that the fertilizer, which was picked from the Tafo Cocoa Research Station of the COCOBOD for testing, had no information on the manufacturer, date of manufacture or expiry date.

The acting Head of the Soil Science Division of Cocoa Research Institute Ghana (CRIG), Dr. Alfred Arthur, the second prosecution witness, told the court yesterday that the labelling on the product only read “made in Germany for Agricult Ghana Limited” with no further information regarding the company that manufactured the product.

He said the original Lithovit Foliar Fertilizer, which was tested and approved by CIRG, was manufactured by Geovita GMBH, a German company which is a patented trade mark.

Dr. told the court that based on that information, scientists at CRIG advised the management of the institute not to renew the certificate for Lithovit fertilizer for the 2018 cocoa season.

“…However, there was no manufacturer, no manufacturing date and expiry date. So on the basis of this information, we advised management not to renew the certificate for Lithovit foliar fertilizer for 2018,” the witness said.

Dr. Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo, Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, are before an Accra High Court for causing financial loss to the state to the tune of GH₵217,370,289.22.

The two are facing a total of 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretense, willfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by a public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

Availability

The witness and Benson Nutsukpui, lawyer for Seidu Agongo could not agree on the availability of the product on the market for the 2014 and 2016 cocoa seasons.

While the lawyer insisted that the product was on the markets within the stated timeframe and widely distributed to cocoa farmers, the witness revealed that he never saw Lithovit on the market and was not privy to the information that it was distributed to farmers.

Counsel put it to the witness that it is not possible that he (witness) worked in six of the seven cocoa regions and did not come into contact with the Lithovit fertilizer.

“It is more than possible. The field preparation that I talked about was in connection with testing new fertilizer samples, which have been brought to CRIG for testing. You only select a farm in a district, demarcate the plot and apply the fertilisers. So this is different from organising sensitization or organising training for farmers,” the witness insisted.

The court, presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenugah, an Appeal Court judge discharged the witness, who has been under cross-examination for about six months.

The prosecution, led by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Yvonne Attakora-Obuobisa, is to call a third witness on May 2.

—Daily Guide

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