"No we did not. We did not write those in ink, we did not put in those vertical lines. Our original report did not have those".
The above were the words of a witness of the state in the ongoing trial of former COCOBOD boss, Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni and two others, when he appeared before the High Court and shown a report presented by the Attorney General as evidence to discredit Lithovit Foliar Fertilizer.
Dr. Emmanuel Yaw Osei-Twum, who is the 5th prosecution witness, a part-time lecturer of the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana, admitted that their report they prepared, has been altered.
He made the revelation, whilst being cross-examined by lawyer Nutifafa Nutsukpui, lead counsel for businessman Alhaji Seidu Agongo.
The report in question, is the work of the Chemistry Department, when it was contracted by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to analyse Lithovit Fertilizer, a product of Agricult Ghana Limited owned by Alhaji Seidu Agongo.
The report as presented by the attorneys of the state to the court, had additional handwritten columns. But Dr. Osei-Twum, 67-years, was clear and emphatic that the contents of the report in its current form, as it is in evidence, is not a true reflection of their work.
The lawyer probed further, for the avoidance of doubt, if the witness was not a party to the supposed altered report where someone ostensibly wrote in hand using ink to add "credibility to the report".It is not clear, who or which of the three institutions namely; the Attorney General's department, the Chemistry Department or EOCO that altered the document and the intent behind it.
But the witness was categorical in court on Tuesday, 27 October 2020 that, "No we did not. We did not write those in ink, we did not put in those vertical lines. Our original report did not have those" clearly showing that the report on the test of lithovit by the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana has been compromised.Mr Nutsukpui, asked Dr. Osei-Twum to identify some inscriptions on the right side of "Table 2", captured on page 6 of the 10 paged report.The writings, which were handwritten in ink, suggested some values of supposed chemicals and compounds allegedly found in the lithovit sample presented for testing by the EOCO.
Dr. Osei-Twum, who has stated that he and another colleague, personally conducted the test and provided data for the report, denied knowledge of the said writings.
He added that, the Chemistry Department, did not test for Silicon dioxide, even though curiously, the person who did alterations to the report indicated underneath the table the chemical symbol for Silicon dioxide and attached values against it.
The Chemistry lecturer admitted that the said alterations to the table also provided wrong values for the concentrations of Calcium Carbonate (CacO3) and Magnesium Carbonate (MgCO3) detected in the Lithovit sample.
A shocked Dr. Osei-Twum, could not understand how the said alterations were done on the report which he had described as credible and concise.
Still, under cross-examination, Dr. Osei-Twum, admitted to the efficacy of Lithovit Foliar Fertiliser.
According to him, their report stated, among others, that lithovit increases yield and improves the quality and storage properties of the crop, especially when plants are under stress situations.
Again, lithovit, according to the report, has the benefit of releasing the water requirement of the plant.
He also admitted that lithovit intensifies the growth and green colouration of plants.
Lithovit also enhances resistance against drought, frost, insects, pests, and fungal infection in plants and enhances the supply of essential micronutrients to plants.
The report from the Chemistry of Ghana's premier university further cited Lithovit as aiding in the increase of metabolization of magnesium in the formation of chlorophyll and the degree of photosynthesis in plants.
Dr. Yaw Osei-Twum, has since been discharged by the court with a new witness expected to be called to take the stand when the hearing resumes.
Read excerpts of the cross-examination below:
Q. Now Sir, when did you obtain the MSDS, at what stage of your work?
A. We had started the work, we had determined the drive constituents of the sample and we had started doing the digestion, so it could be four days afterwards.
Q. Who did you obtain the MSDS from.
A. EOCO provided us with the MSDS.
Q. And sir, what particular type of Lithovit did you think you were working on?
A. I would not know, My Lord. We were asked to determine the composition.
Q. And so Sir, how did you know that the MSDS that you were handed by EOCO actually related to the sample you were working on.
A. The MSDS provided us with the constituents and our analysis showed us that the sample had the same constituents but at very reduced concentration
Q. Sir, in your report you had identified the various types of Lithovit, that is correct
A. That is correct
Q. And all of these different types have different constituents. that is true.
A. There are two groups The first group will contain about the same constituents. The second group one of them contains urea and the second was NPK, N stands for Nitrogen, P stands for Phosphorus and K stands for Potassium.
Q. Now Sir, you see you are not suggesting that the Lithovit Organic Fertilizers which is in the first group you identified that all those fertilizers have the same constituents in the same values, are you. A. No, I am not.
Q. So therefore those individual products do have their own MSDS, that is true.
A. I cannot tell at this point because EOCO just stated Lithovit.
Q. Sir you see, because you had the MSDS after you had written this report, someone used ink in an attempt to give your work credibility by writing the supposed values from the MSDS on the right side of the table you have drawn, that is correct.
A. My Lord, if somebody did it, we did not do it.
Q. Sir, can you see to the right side of Table 2 of page 6 of your report that someone had written in hand Safety Data Sheet at the top and supposed values from that Safety Data Sheet in ink.
A. Yes, I can see
Q. And according to you, you did not do this, the writings in ink
A. No we did not. We did not write those in ink, we did not put in those vertical lines. Our original report did not have those
Q. Sir you see, even though you did not test for Silicon Dioxide, you would note that curiously the person who did the alterations to your report indicated underneath the table the chemical symbol for Silicon Dioxide and provided a value against it, that is true.
A. My Lord, we did not do it.
Q. Please does that appear in the report that you are holding now.
A. It does appear in the report I am holding but as I said we don't know anything about it and My Lord if the MSDS have been tendered as evidence you would have noticed that the numbers are correct. My Lord. the only mistake made by whoever wrote it swapped the values for CaCo3 and MgCo3
Q. Now Sir, when you say the values are right but you in fact never tested that sample for Silicon dioxide, are you being truthful.
A. My Lord, we are being very truthful.
Q. So in your experience, is it credible work to ascribe constituents and values that you never tested for in any sample, is that credible work.
A. My Lord, we did not test for Silicon or Silicon Dioxide. As our original report stands it is very credible.
Dr.Opuni, businessman Alhaji Agongo and Agricult Ghana Company Limited, are facing 27 charges of willfully causing financial loss of ¢217 to the state, through three separate fertiliser supply contracts between 2014 and 2016.
They have pleaded not guilty to all the charges and are on self-recognition bail of ¢300,000 each.