More shocking revelations continue to emerge from the ongoing trial of businessman Seidu Agongo and former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, as the Attorney General’s witness, Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, admitted, under cross-examination that neither Agricult Ghana Limited nor its CEO were invited when samples of the Lithovit Liquid fertilser were forwarded to the Ghana Standards Authority and the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana, Legon, for testing.
Dr Adu-Ampomah admitted in court on Tuesday, 11 February 2020 that he had no idea where the samples of the lithovit liquid fertiliser, which he forwarded to the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) were taken from, since COCOBOD has numerous warehouses across the country.
He added that he also cannot recollect the COCOBOD and EOCO staff who went to the warehouse to select the fertiliser samples for testing.
However, Agricult Ghana Limited and its CEO were never invited to witness any of these processes for the sake of transparency.
The samples were referred to the Drugs, Cosmetics and Forensic Science division of the Ghana Standards Authority for testing. Class News’ checks indicate that the division consists of 4 laboratories, namely: Drugs Laboratory, which undertakes analysis on drugs and related products; Cosmetics Laboratory, which undertakes chemical analysis on cosmetics and related products; Forensic Laboratory, which undertakes analysis on forensic samples including tissues and narcotics; and Histopathology Laboratory, which undertakes tests on tissues and other samples for medical diagnosis.
The report from the test, dated 5 May 2017, identified only three active ingredients in the Lithovit Liquid fertiliser sample sent to them, which include calcium, magnesium and urea.
When Mr Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited challenged the findings of that test, it was agreed that a fresh sample be taken in the presence of the accused persons, EOCO and members of COCOBOD.
The second sample was forwarded to the Material Science Department of the GSA, which comprises the following departments: General Chemistry Laboratory, which undertakes chemical tests on wide range of products including household chemicals, paints, fertilisers etc.; Petroleum Laboratory, which undertakes chemical analyses on petroleum and related products; Water Laboratory, which undertakes chemical analyses on water to ascertain quality and level of compliance with applicable standards; Textiles and Leather laboratory, which undertakes physical and chemical tests on textiles, leather and related products; Polymer and Plastics Laboratory, which undertakes physical tests on plastics, polymer and paper products; and Precious Metals Laboratory, which assays gold and does hallmarking.
The second GSA report, dated 26 July 2017, however, revealed that the Lithovit Liquid fertiliser was, indeed, a fertiliser and contained six ingredients comprising iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and urea.
The counsel for Mr Agongo, Mr Nutifafa Nutsukpui, who was holding brief for Mr Benson Nutsukpui, put it to Dr Adu-Ampomah that COCOBOD deliberately ignored the second test report from the GSA.
He said: “You see, the only reason you did not include the second GSA test dated 26 July 2017 in the report of your investigation is that it did not support your narrative against lithovit liquid fertiliser.”
He further questioned why the first Lithovit fertiliser sample will be forwarded to the Drugs, Cosmetics and Forensic Science division, which obviously lacked the requisite grounds to conduct the test, instead of the Material Science Department, which was clothed with the necessary mandate for the test.
Dr Adu-Ampomah, however, denied the involvement of COCOBOD in the second testing even though Mr Nutifafa faced him with the hard facts.
According to the witness, he cannot speak to that test since he does not recall the involvement of COCOBOD.
Dr Adu-Ampomah further noted that COCOBOD has, in its history, never sent agrochemicals to the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana.
So, when asked why lithovit samples were sent to that department for testing, Dr Adu-Ampomah said the rationale was for the department to test the efficacy of the fertiliser.
When Mr Nutskpui asked: “Sir, you are aware that they had no prior experience in ascertaining the efficacy of fertilisers. What standard do you give them to work with?”, Dr Adu-Ampomah replied: “My lord, the University of Ghana’s Chemistry department in Ghana should be the Supreme area for testing of any chemical because they have been teaching all these people who are working at the GSA and all these scientific institutions”.
He added: “In this world, if any country wants to test a chemical and the chemistry department of their premier university is not qualified, then I don't know who is more qualified to test in that country”.