A former Executive Director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), Dr Gilbert Anim Kwapong, has said some remarks attributed to him in the Adu-Ampomah Committee report on Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser were never uttered by him.
Dr Adu-Ampomah, who is a former Deputy Chief Executive at the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control, was the state's third witness in the ongoing GHS217-million financial loss trial against the Board's former chief executive officer Stephen Opuni, together with businessman Seidu Agongo as well as the latter's agrochemical company Agricult Ghana Limited.
In 2017, Dr Adu-Ampomah chaired a committee formed by President Nana Akufo-Addo that probed alleged underhand dealings in the testing of agrochemicals at CRIG.
He was recalled from retirement to undertake that task during that period of power transition.
According to the Adu-Ampomah report, Dr Kwapong had indicated to the committee that he subsequently learnt Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser was in powder form despite first learning and seeing it in liquid form.
Dr Kwapong, the eigth defence witness of Dr Opuni (the first accused person), who was subpoenaed by the court, told the hearing on Tuesday, 21 November 2023 that some remarks attributed to him in the report were not his words.
In his evidence-in-chief led by Mr Sam Cudjoe, lead counsel for Dr Opuni, the witness said he disowned portions of the comments captured in the report attributed to him.
Mr Cudjoe asked him: "You were speaking the truth when you informed the committee that 'the first sample of Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser that I saw personally was liquid and I didn't have any idea that, in the past, it was powder. It was recently that I got to know that it was powder'. Is that not so?"
In his answer, Dr Kwapong, said: "I've not seen this proceeding from the committee. Indeed, I said the first sample of Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser that I saw personally was liquid, but this statement here that continues to say, 'I don't believe it was powder', I don't believe I said, because the first time I saw the sample, it was bottle and it was liquid. This sentence attributed to me can't be right".
Asked: "So, until today, have you seen a copy of the committee’s report?", Dr Kwapong said: "No, my Lord."
"Are you saying you were not given a copy?" Mr Cudjoe pushed further, to which Dr Kwapong responded: "My Lord, I was not given a copy".
Dr Kwapong told the court that he started working at COCOBOD on 5 January 1990 as an assistant research officer at CRIG.
"I rose through the ranks from the position of an assistant research officer to the position of chief research scientist in 2012. In 2014, September 5, I was appointed acting executive director of CRIG. On January 30, 2017, I was transferred to Cocoa House. There was no position attached to it. On 3rd May, 2017, I assumed work at CHED, as director (CODAPEC)".
Opuni trial: AG’s witness disowns prosecution’s own powdered lithovit evidence
Four years ago, Dr Adu-Ampomah disowned the prosecution’s own powdered lithovit foliar fertiliser sample entered into evidence.
During his evidence in chief on 29 October 2018, the state’s second prosecution witness, Dr Alfred Arthur, who was a research scientist at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), and played a key role in the testing of Lithovit in 2013, disclosed that the sample brought to him to test was a fine greyish powder in a cylindrical container with a green cover.
In his testimony at the time, he said: “A letter introducing Lithovit foliar fertiliser and signed by former Deputy Chief Executive Agronomy and Quality Control of Cocobod, Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, was minuted to me by my head of division, Mr A. A. Afrifa to go for the sample from Chairman of the committee for Testing Chemicals and Machinery (CTCM)”.
Mr Sam Codjoe, at the time, objected to the tendering of that sample into evidence arguing that it was impossible that it was intact in the container even after the witness claimed he worked on it.
But his objection was overruled by the court and the sample admitted into evidence with Dr Arthur emphatic that it was the sample brought to him from Cocobod to work on in 2013.
However, when faced with that same sample in the cylindrical container during the hearing on Wednesday, 27 November 2019, Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah denied knowledge of the said sample.
In his words: “My lord, I don't know where this is coming from because this will not be the sample that was brought the first time. The first sample came in 2013 and I don't know whether it is this same sample you are referring to. The sample which came in 2013 of which Dr Amoah is referring to, I wouldn't know if it is the same thing you are showing to me.”
Dr Adu-Ampomah maintained that the lithovit sample tested in 2013 was powdery while subsequent supplies to Cocobod were in liquid form even though two of the three scientists who wrote the final report on the test of lithovit have stated that the product they worked on was powdery. According to Dr Adu-Ampomah, Mr Alex Asante Afrifa was being untruthful while Jerome Dugbatsey was basing his assessment on the lithovit sample he saw during his field work in 2016.
Here are excerpts of that cross-examination by Mr Sam Codjoe:
Q. Dr Adu-Ampomah, in your committee report, Mr Dugbatsey informed you that at the time he was employed in November 2013, the nursery work on lithovit had been completed. Isn't it?
A. No he said the work was ongoing and when he was employed, he was sent to the nursery and showed where the experiment was ongoing.
Q. In fact, he states specifically that he played no role and that work had already been done before he joined CRIG on November 4, 2013?
A. When he said it has been done, it doesn't mean it was completed. He was a young scientist so he wouldn't know because he was just being shown so he could not know if the work was completed.
Q. In fact, his answer is consistent with your own testimony you gave in this court that the nursery work was completed in three months.
A. No my lord the report stated that the work was done on the young seedlings for three months. As to when it started, it was not stated.
Q. Dr I am putting it to you that by the evidence of Dugbatsey and also before the committee, the three months ended before Dugbatsey was employed on November 2013.
A. No, my Lord.
Q. Did the committee in its report find that Dugbatsey lied before it with regards to when work was completed?
A. No, my Lord.
Q. In fact, Dugbatsey states that when he was employed in November, work had been completed and that he only reviews the report and therefore did not play in a role in doing the work?
A. Yes and as I have previously stated, the "done" here does not mean the work was completed. It wasn't. My understanding of it has been done was that it was ongoing.
Q. In fact, when you asked him on page 3 whether he has seen lithovit foliar fertiliser being used, he told you he has seen the product being used.
A. Yes, my Lord.
Q. And when you asked him whether lithovit was powder or liquid, his answer before the committee on page 3 is that it was liquid. Isn't it?
A. Yes, my Lord. This was based on what he had seen in the field in 2016.
Q. On page 28 of exhibit H, when you asked the then head of the soil science division, Mr A. A. Afrifa whether what was supplied is liquid, he gave you an answer.
A. Yes, my Lord.
Q. What was his answer?
A. “Chief that one I can be 100% certain that it was liquid that was submitted”. That's what he said but this was at the committee when we called the 3 scientists whose names were on the report. These scientists were Dr Arthur, who counsel has shown here today, received the product who said the product he received was powder and from Mr Afrifa's own mouth at the committee, he never saw the product but he instructed Dr Arthur to work on it.
Q. In fact on page 28 of exhibit H, Mr Afrifa states that what he tested was liquid.
A. 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 MSDS said the product was powder. Dr Arthur who received the product and worked on it said it was powder. Former director of CRIG Dr Amoah who received first the sample said it was powder. It was only Mr Afrifa who never saw the product, never worked on it who was saying it was liquid.
Q. The question is: Did Afrifa inform the committee "what I tested was liquid"?
A. My Lord, as I have said the committee found that he was lying because he never worked on it
Q. You also invited Dr Amoah who was the director of CRIG at the time the lithovit was sent by you to CRIG. Isn't it? And Dr Amoah informed the committee that the sample which was submitted to CRIG was powder weighing 10 kilos.
A. Yes, my lord.
Q. I put it to you that this (exhibit E) which was admitted in court on 29th October 2018, cannot weigh 10 kilos.
A. My Lord I don't know where this is coming from because this will not be the sample that was brought the first time. The first sample came in 2013 and I don't know whether it is this same sample you are referring to. The sample which came in 2013 of which Dr Amoah is referring to, I wouldn't know if it is the same thing you are showing to me.
Q. From exhibit H, that is the report, the 3 scientists whose names are on the report at Dugbatsey, Arthur and Afrifa who was head of the soil science division. Isn't it.
Q. Out of the 3 scientists, two of them namely Dugbatsey and Afrifa state that lithovit is liquid before the committee. Isn't it.
A. Yes, my Lord, but this same two never worked on the product. It was only Dr Arthur who received the product and worked on it. These same two scientists also confessed to the committee that they never worked on the first product that was sent for CRIG to test upon which the first certificate was issued.
The case has been adjourned to Wednesday December 5 for continuation. Meanwhile the court is set to hear an application of perjury filed by counsel for the first accused against the Prosecution witness, Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah on December 17, 2019.