Monday, 16 September

Opuni trial: AG's witness contradicts himself again; own letter said 'farmers preferred sole-sourced' agrochemicals

General News
Issues of sole-sourcing at the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) continue to cripple the state’s third prosecution witness, Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah in the ongoing trial of former COCOBOD CEO, Dr Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo, court correspondent Joshua Kodjo Mensah has reported.

Even though the witness, in his evidence in chief, categorically stated that COCOBOD uses competitive bidding for its procurement, it emerged in court that his claim was untrue.

In his cross-examination, Mr Sam Codjoe, the counsel for the first accused persons (Dr Stephen Opuni), challenged that claim with the witness mostly unable to defend his stance.

Authority Usurpation By Public Procurement Authority

During the proceedings on Wednesday, 12 June 2019, Dr Adu-Ampomah admitted writing a letter to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) on the 6th of July 2017 to seek approval to procure agrochemicals through the single source procurement method for cocoa CODAPECH/HITECH programme 2016/17.

He also averred that in response to that application, the PPA directed COCOBOD, through a letter dated 11th July 2017, to negotiate the original price by 15%.

In the said letter, the PPA also advised COCOBOD to, going forward, consider advertising its procurement needs to enable competition among the manufacturers and also help save the state some money.

But Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah told the court that the PPA, per this directive, was usurping its authority since the issues bordered around technicalities, which the PPA was ignorant about.

Farmers Preferred Sole-Sourced Agrochemicals

Dr Adu-Ampomah burst into laughter when Mr Codjoe asked him if he had ever mentioned that farmers preferred sole-sourced agrochemicals in any discussion.

He vehemently denied ever saying that but his laughter quickly evaporated the moment Mr Codjoe presented him with a letter he [Dr Adu-Ampomah] wrote to the PPA dated 27th March 2018 to that effect.

In that letter, Dr Adu-Ampomah, in his capacity as the Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control at COCOBOD, stated that sole-sourced chemicals are farmers’ preferences, contrary to his earlier denial.

He, however, explained that this was also due to some technicalities.

Dr Opuni’s lawyer then put it to Dr Adu-Ampomah that during his tenure as Deputy Chief Executive at COCOBOD, all procurements were done through sole-sourcing.

Court Orders PPA, COCOBOD To Produce Some Vital Documents

The court, presided over by Justice C.J. Honyenuga, has ordered the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) and COCOBOD to produce some documents which are key to the ongoing trial within seven days of service.

This was upon an application by Dr Opuni’s lawyer, reminding the court of a motion he filed on 4 April 2018 for the prosecution team to furnish him with the said documents which included:

• All letters written by COCOBOD through Dr Opuni to the PPA for permission to sole-source contracts for all fertilisers;

• All letters written by the PPA in connection with all fertilisers during the tenure of Dr Opuni.

Meanwhile, Dr Adu-Ampomah has also been ordered by the court to furnish it with the documents that show that COCOBOD purchased some agrochemicals and fertilisers through competitive bidding in the 2017/18 season as he claimed.

He is to file those documents before the next adjourned date of 20 June 2019.

Source: Ghana/ Kodjo Mensah

Source: Patrick Ayumu