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28.11.2019 General News

New Twist In Opuni Trail

By News Desk
Dr. Stephen Opuni
NOV 28, 2019 GENERAL NEWS

The form and nature of the Lithovit fertilizer that was tested by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) was once again the subject of debate between lawyers for former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod), Dr. Stephen Opuni, and the prosecution.

This time, the three scientists at CRIG who were directly involved in the testing and evaluation of the fertilizer are having different opinions on the nature of the fertilizer that was presented in 2013 for testing.

While Dr. Alfred Arthur, the scientist who received and tested the fertilizer at the time, claims it was powder, the then head of the soil science division, A. A. Afrifa, was not clear on the form and nature of the fertilizer tested.

While Mr. Afrifa said in one breadth that the fertilizer was liquid when he appeared before a Cocobod Fact Finding Committee, he is now claiming that the same sample was 'fine powder' that was tested and a report issued.

This, according to a former deputy Chief Executive in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control at Cocobod, Dr. Adu-Ampoma, who is the third prosecution witness in the trial of Dr. Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo, led the committee to conclude that Mr. Afrifa was lying to the committee.

Cross-Examination

Samuel Codjoe, counsel for Dr. Opuni, in his cross-examination of Dr. Adu-Ampoma, asked what Mr. Afrifa's response was when he was asked whether the fertilizer was 'liquid or solid.'

The witness told the court that Mr. Afrifa said it was 'liquid' that was submitted but added that the committee found that Mr. Afrifa never tested any sample and ever saw what was sent to CRIG for testing by Seidu Agongo.

He said it was Dr. Alfred Arthur who received and tested the product and he confirmed to the committee that the product was 'powder' and that was confirmed by the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) which states the nature and form of the product as powder.

This, the witness said, was the reason the committee found that Mr. Afrifa was lying to the committee.

“My lord the committee found that Mr. A. A. Afrifa never tested anything. It was rather Dr. Arthur who worked on the product and the committee found that Mr. Afrifa was lying to the committee because the material safety data sheet said the product was powder. Dr. Arthur who received the product and worked on it said it was powder; the former director of CRIG Dr. Amoah who first received the sample said it was powder and it was only Mr. Afrifa who never saw the product, who never worked on it who was saying it was liquid,” Dr. Adu-Ampoma stated.

The witness further quoted from the committee's report where he said Mr. Afrifa had said “the Lithovit itself is a powder. What he brought to us was in plastic containers” adding that when the committee members asked him if it was powder or liquid Mr. Afrifa said “if you look at it you will realise it is just like sand.”

“This is why I said the committee realised Mr. Afrifa was lying. If you look at his last statement he said it looks like sand yet he says it is liquid,” the witness explained.

Mature Cocoa

Mr. Codjoe then asked the witness whether Dr. Franklin Amoah, a former Executive Director of CRIG in a letter on a report on Lithovit said the fertilizer could be applied on mature cocoa trees based on similarities with some other fertilizers already in use.

The witness said the mode of application as indicated in the report says it should be applied 50 grams per litre which shows that the product was powder and not liquid.

Hearing continues on December 5.

—Daily Guide

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