A witness of the Attorney General, Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah has conceded in court that the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) never advertised to solicit bids from the public as far as the purchasing of fertilisers is concerned.
His current position contrasts his long-held testimony to the court that Cocobod engages in competitive bidding.
Dr Adu-Ampomah is testifying against former Cococbod Chief Executive, Dr Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo.
Dr Adu-Ampomah, who is currently an advisor to the Minister of Agriculture on cocoa affairs, had, in his evidence-in-chief, told the court that the procurement practice at Cocobod had always been through competitive tendering, refuting arguments by the counsel for the accused persons that sole-sourcing was rather the normal practice.
But later under cross-examination, the third prosecution witness retreated on his no-sole-sourcing evidence after the counsel for Dr Opuni, Mr Samuel Cudjoe confronted him with several documents that established that the witness personally participated in the procurement processes at Cocobod through sole-sourcing even before and after the tenure of the first accused person.
Even after admitting to sole-sourcing, the witness, who was a former Deputy Chief Executive at Cocobod in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control, insisted that Cocobod also advertise to get companies to supply it with fertilisers.
“Dr Adu-Ampomah, when you said before purchases are made for fertiliser, it has to be advertised and specifying the product they required, you were not being truthful,” Mr Cudjoe told him in May this year.
“My Lord, I was being truthful,” he answered.
Still, under cross-examination, the Daily Guide newspaper in July also quoted Dr Adu-Ampomah maintaining in court that: “…In some instances, adverts are placed in the papers. In some other times, due to the peculiar nature of some chemicals, they are not but in general terms, you are supposed to do. But sometimes, if it is explained to PPA it could be allowed without placing adverts in the papers”.
After a long break, proceedings resumed on 7 November 2019 with the witness reiterating his stance on the procurement of fertilisers through advertisement in the Daily Graphic.
When Mr Cudjoe reminded him that even the Procurement Manager at Cocobod and others have told the police that all the fertilisers purchased by Cococbod are sole-sourced and not advertised, Dr Adu-Ampomah retorted, “My Lord, that is not true. What pertains is what I just stated: that is, depending on the circumstance, it could be advertised or sole-sourced or known companies could be invited or restrictive tendering can be made.”
“I am putting it to you that in the entire life of Cocobod, there has never been any occasion that the general public has been invited to bid for fertilisers by way of advertisement. It has never happened in any newspaper in Ghana,” the counsel for Dr Opuni asserted.
Dr Adu-Ampomah recounted the history of when Cocobod started purchasing fertilisers in the early 2000s but was stopped by the trial judge, Justice Clemence Honyenugah who reminded him of the question asked by the counsel.
“For fertilisers, yes, my lord”, Dr Adu-Ampomah admitted that no advertisement was ever done.
Procurement Unit and letters
Dr Adu-Ampomah also admitted that all the letters to the companies asking for their best quotes and quantities are written by the Procurement Unit of Cocobod but signed by the Chief Executive or in his absence, the Deputy, as he did during his time at Cocobod.
“Dr Adu-Ampomah, as you did at your time, all these letters are sent to the entities after which they bring their best bid to Cocobod,” the counsel asked, to which he responded in the affirmative, “yes my lord”.
He was further asked, “Dr, because the letters, although written by the procurement department but signed by the CEO, the entities replying always addressed to the CEO or in his absence to the deputy as you have been doing.” He answered, “yes my Lord”.
Below are excerpts of the proceedings
Q: when the companies send their response by way of their best bids, sometimes the procurement department calls them to get best price quotation.
Ans: yes, my Lord
Q: in fact, the companies’ sum of money and actual quantities to be purchased is attached to the letters to PPA for approvals for sole source.
Ans: yes, my lord
Q: this COCOBOD letter to PPA for sole source is written by the procurement department but signed by the CEO and in some instances as you did by the deputy CEO.
Ans: yes, my Lord
Q: and the approval letter from PPA also includes the exact amounts and quantities to be purchased.
Ans: yes, my Lord.
DPP: My Lord, I was about to object because the questions are loaded. My Lord the witness is only here to assist us. he should not be intimidated.
Sam Cudjoe: My Lord, the DPP is rather intimidating us. She has the whole state apparatus supporting her.
Q: And after the approval, it is taken to the entity tender committee.
Ans: my Lord it is variable. sometimes it is like this and sometimes it is not, in this case, it is the way you describe it.
Q: Dr in 2014, 2015 and 2016, all letters were written to individual companies were written by the Procurement Unit and signed by Dr Stephen Opuni.
Ans: my Lord I wasn’t there so I can’t tell.
Q: OK, Dr Adu Ampomah, I am putting it to you that the letters you signed to the PPA when you returned in 2017 were written by the Procurement Unit.
Ans: yes, my Lord
Q: in fact, when you were deputy A and QC, you signed these letters which were all written by the procurement unit.
Ans: yes, my Lord, some of them.
Q: Dr as you have already stated in your statement to the police and in your evidence-in-Chief, you should have known that letters written to Agricult are similar to those written to Wienco for Asase wura, for Sidalco liquid fertiliser and Chemico for cocofeed fertilizer.
Ans: my Lord since we came, we have written to them but not Agricult.
Q: I am putting it to you that you are aware that per your investigation, in 2014, 2015 and 2016 identical procurement letters were written to Wienco, Sidalco and Chemico to submit their best bid.
Ans: yes, my Lord.
Court adjourned proceedings to November 13.
Dr. Stephen Opuni, as well as businessman Seidu Agongo and his company Agricult Ghana Limited, are standing trial for causing financial loss to the state.