CID Investigator Suffering Memory  Loss At Opuni Trial Under Cross-Examination 

Chief Inspector Thomas-Prempeh-Mercer Chief Inspector Thomas-Prempeh-Mercer

The Chief Inspector, whose final report occasioned the criminal prosecution of the former Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board, Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman, Alhaji Seidu Agongo, has several time pleaded to have his memory refreshed, having come under intense cross-examination by the lawyers of the two accused persons.

The investigator, Thomas Prempeh Mercer, is currently facing questions from counsel for Mr Seidu Agongo, who is the second accused person, Nutifafa Nutsukpui and has many times pleaded with the court to have his memory refreshed as the lawyer demands for some specific issues on vital documents the prosecution had built to nail the two individuals.

Earlier, the same police officer of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Financial Forensci Unit (FFU), had pleaded with the court to be allowed the latitude to consult his notes and come back about date for the information Lawyer Samuel Codjoe, counsel for Dr. Opuni was seeking seek with respect to one COCOBOD officer by name Kutsuatsi.

Under cross-examination from Mr Codjoe, the investigator previously told the court that he personally spoke to Mr Kutsuati on the allegation that he was present when a verbal directive was given to scientists by Dr. Opuni to shorten the testing of fertilizers.

Thomas Prempeh Mercer, initially said he also took a statement from him, but later pleaded with the court to check the CID's docket if a statement was taken from Mr Kutsuati.

However, days later; Thursday, March 11, Chief Insp. Prempeh Mercer, admitted that he never spoke to Mr Kutsuati, as he had earlier claimed let alone take a statement from him.

The trial investigator, has been testifying in the ongoing trial of Dr. Stephen Opuni and Seidu Agongo, who are facing 27 charges, including willfully causing financial loss to the State and contravention of the Public Procurement Act. They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GHS300,000 self-recognisance bail each.

At the last sitting on Tuesday, the investigator was caught off guard by Lawyer Nutifafa Nutsukpui, after vital documents the prosecution was accused of hiding took center stage in court.

One of the documents was a final report prepared by Paul Agyei Gyang, the then Head of Organised Crime Unit of EOCO, when it was ordered to hand over investigation into the case to the police CID, which made certain interesting disclosures favourable to the accused persons.

There is also another document which happens to be the second scientific report carried out by the Ghana Standards Authority on lithovit fertilizer, which is at the centre of the trial.

Counsel for Mr Seidu Agongo, who is the second accused person, succeeded in tendering in evidence some vital documents during cross-examination of Chief Insp. Prempeh Mercer on Monday, March 15, 2021.

Obviously unprepared for questions on those documents, the trial investigator pleaded with the court for time to refresh his memory.

Lawyer Nutifafa, who appears to have a well-thought-out strategy for an onslaught did not mince words in accusing the trial investigator and by extension the Attorney General of hiding the truth from the court.

"Sir you see, I am putting it to you that the only reason that that 2nd test report of July 2017 from GSA is not part of the documentation before this court is that it defeats your narrative that you have built for this case," Nutifafa Nutsukpui who is holding brief for Benson Nutsukpui told the court.

But the witness parried: "My Lord that is never so at all." In all, EOCO received three scientific reports as part of the investigation: One from the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana and two from the Ghana Standards Authority. The first test from the Ghana Standards Authority which result was submitted to EOCO on 5th May 2017, was carried out at the Cosmetics Drugs Forensic and Toxicology Department.

Experts have raised eyebrow as to how a fertilizer would be tested at that department.

Lawyer Nutifafa in February 2020, told the court that the sample for the first test was "diluted" and intentionally sent to the wrong department.

Seido Agongo whose company, Agricult Ghana Limited, produces the lithovit fertilizer contested the result when he was invited by EOCO.

This prompted the need for a second test to be carried out with the involvement of all interested parties. A sample for the test was therefore taken from the warehouse of COCOBOD and submitted to GSA on 30th June 2017.

EOCO, received the result for the second test on 2nd July 2017. This time, the test was done at the Material Science Department of GSA that is known to be responsible for testing fertilizers.

The head of the Material Science Department of GSA, Mrs. Baah Mantey, wrote in her statement to investigators that from the second scientific report, "the results revealed that that sample contained some amounts of nitrogen phosphorus and potassium and so the sample was identified as fertilizer".

Meanwhile, the scientific test result from the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana was discredited by the 5th prosecution witness under cross-examination in October last year.

Dr. Emmanuel Yaw Osei-Twum, who claimed to have worked on that sample impugned the credibility of the report when he noted in court that the report which was tendered in evidence by the prosecution was doctored.

Find excerpts of March 15, 2021 cross-examination below

Q: You interviewed or interrogated some of the farmers who actually used the Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer as part of your investigations, that is true.

A: Yes, My Lord.

Q: And you obtained statements from some of them, that is also true.

A: Yes. My Lord.

Q: Now your investigations did not reveal any user or farmer complaints against the Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer, that is also correct.

A: My Lord, that is not true. Q: Apart from Exhibit 69, how many other farmers did you obtain statements from.

A: My Lord, statements were obtained from two farmers one in Koforidua.

Q: Do you have that other statement in evidence.

A: My Lord, that I cannot be sure of but I can produce the statement if I am asked to, that is the other statement.

Q: Sir, so as far as you are aware it was only two farmers you obtained statements from as part of these investigations, that is true.

A: Yes. My Lord.

Q: Now in Exhibit 69 which is a statement by one Mr. Emmanuel Obeng, he confirmed that he used Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer and found it very good for young and mature cocoa, that is true.

A: Yes, My Lord.

Q: Sir you see, I am putting it to you that you never obtained any adverse statements from any farmers regarding the suitability of Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer as they applied it to their cocoa farms.

A: My Lord, so far as these investigations are concerned statements were obtained from two farmers, one is Exhibit 69 that I hold in my hand which the farmer stated Lithovit as good. Unfortunately the other farmer also described Lithovit as good as water.

Q: Sir, I am putting it to you that no farmer gave you a statement in which he or she described Lithovit as good as water.

A: My Lord, that is not true. I can produce the statement if I am asked to.

Q: Now Sir. on the 8th of February, 2021 in this court, you said that having assumed control over the docket you found two scientific reports on the said docket, is that correct.

A: Yes, My Lord. Q: Kindly show him Exhibit 75, Mr. Agyei Gyang's statement. Now Sir, do you know Mr. Paul Agyei Gyang.

A: Yes, My Lord. Q: Now, he was the head of Organized Crime Unit of EOCO at the time.

A: Yes, My Lord.

Q: Sir, prior to today did you review his statement which is Exhibit 75.

A: My Lord, his statement is on the docket. Yes. My Lord.

Q: Sir, if you look on the first page of Exhibit 75 about the 12th line from the top of the page, you will see that Mr. Gyang states that on the 4th of April, 2017, EOCO received 12 litres of Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer from the Deputy Chief Executive of Cocobod in charge of A&QC, Dr AduAmpomah as Exhibit for testing. That is correct.

A: Yes, My Lord. Q: And then from around the 16th line you will see that Mr Gyang states that those samples were sent to GSA and the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana on the 20th of April, 2017.

A: Yes. My Lord.

Q: Now on the 4th line to the bottom. Mr. Gyang records that EOCO received the test results from GSA on the 5th May 2017, is that correct?

A: Yes, My Lord.

Q: And then on the 2nd page of Exhibit 75, on the 5th line from the top of the page, the records also that on the 16th May 2017, EOCO the test results from the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana. that is true.

A: Yes, My Lord. Q: Now Mr. Gyang also records that on the 26th May 2017 EOCO invited A2 in order to charge him with supplying fake agrochemicals to Cocobod and for causing loss to the State, that is also correct

A: Yes, My Lord.

Q: Mr. Gyang also in Exhibit 75 recorded A2 protestation that he did not know where the samples for those two tests were taken from and as a result he was put before the Executive Director of EOCO, is that correct, Sir.

A: Yes, My Lord.

Q: Mr. Gyang went further and said that after deliberation with the DCE A&QC of Cocobod it was directed that another sample be picked from Cocobod warehouse in the presence of A2 and staff of Cocobod, that is also correct, Sir.

A: Yes, My Lord.

Q: Sir, from Mr. Gyang's statement, that 2nd sample was picked from the warehouse of Cocobod on the Spintex Road on the 29th June 2017, that is correct.

A: Yes, My Lord, Q: And this sample according to Mr. Gyang was submitted to GSA on the 30th June, 2017, that is correct, Sir.

A: Yes. My Lord. Q: And Mr. Gyang confirmed that a 2nd test from GSA was received by EOCO on the 2nd July, 2017, that is correct.

A: Yes, My Lord. Q: And Mr. Gyang said because this 2nd test result was different from the previous test from the GSA, the scientists who were involved were invited and interrogated on the two reports for their explanation. that is also correct.

A: Yes, My Lord. Q: Sir, you saw more than two scientific reports on the file when you took over the investigations. that is correct.

A: No, My Lord. The docket we took over has two scientific reports, one from the GSA and one from University of Ghana.

Q: Now Sir, when you reviewed Mr. Gyang's statement which is Exhibit 75, you realized that he spoke about a 2nd test report from the GSA.

A: Yes, My Lord.

Q: Sir, did you enquire about the 2nd test report as part of your investigations

A: Yes, My Lord. My Lord, the answer we got was the two test reports that was on the docket.

Q: Sir, who did you speak with.

A: My Lord, we spoke to Mr. Akrasi because he gave statement as the investigator on the case

Q: Sir, you saw this particular statement (Exhibit 75) and you reviewed it when you took over the files from EOCO.

A: Yes, My Lord. Q: And at the time you were looking for the 3rd scientific report, Mr. Gyang was still at post. wasn't he? A: Yes, My Lord.

Q: And it he was who indicated the existence of the 2nd GSA report in his statement that you found on the file, that is true.

A: My Lord, that is not exactly so. My Lord, the police CID took over this investigation, the docket contained two scientific reports, and of the two investigators on the case one gave statement (that is Mr. Prosper Akrasi) at the CID headquarters to that effect. So My Lord, we don't have any other report apart from the two that was on the docket that we took over from EOCO.

Q: Sir, as an investigator when you discovered this discrepancy in the statements of Mr. Akrasi and Mr. Gyang, what did you do.

A: My Lord, it was on these bases that Mr. Akrasi was called to give this statement.

Q: Now in Mr. Akrasi's statement did he say that there was no 2nd test conducted at the GSA in respect of Lithovit as part of the investigations.

A: My Lord I cannot readily recall the exact statement that he used but I can produce the statement if I am asked to. I want to further state that if that other report as counsel is talking about was given to the police there is no way we will not produce it. My Lord what we took over is what we have produced in court.

Q: Sir you see, I am putting it to you that the only reason that that 2nd test report of July 2017 from GSA is not part of the documentation before this court is that it defeats your narrative that you have built for this case.

A: My Lord that is never so at all. Q: Kindly take a look at Exhibit 71, it is a statement obtained from the head of the MSD of GSA, Mrs. Baah Mantey, that is correct, Sir.

A: Yes, My Lord.

Q: Now Sir, in Exhibit 71 Mrs. Baah Mantey confirms that in June 2017, a sample of Lithovit was delivered to MSD of GSA for testing, is that correct.

A: Yes, My Lord.

Q: Then she said that the results revealed that that sample contained some amounts of nitrogen phosphorus and potassium and so the sample was identified as fertilizer, that is true.

A: Yes, My Lord

Q: Please show him Exhibit 72. Exhibit 72 is a statement of one Fiona Gyamfi, that is correct.

A: Yes, My Lord.

Q: Sir, on the 5th line from the top of the first page of Exhibit 72, she confirms that on 30th June, 2017, two samples, one granular substance and liquid substance (Lithovit) were submitted to the GSA Lab from EOCO, is that correct

A: Yes, My Lord. Q: And then she said on the 29th of August, 2017. she was called to EOCO head office and confronted with two tests reports from GSA in respect of Lithovit, is that also correct.

A: My Lord that is not correct.

Q: Sir kindly read from the 13th line from the top. A: Witness reads out. Q: Sir from what you read it is clear that two samples were tested at GSA in respect of the Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer.

A: My Lord that is not so.

Q: Sir, the test results that you have seen from the GSA, which Department tested it.

A: My Lord I need to refresh my memory.

Q: Sir, I am putting it to you that there were two samples submitted by EOCO to the GSA for testing, one was to the Cosmetics Drugs Forensic and Toxicology Department of GSA and the other to the Material Science Department of GSA in respect of Lithovit.

A: My Lord, that is why I said I want to refresh my memory.

Q: Sir, when you took over the files you did not just walk to EOCO and carried the files by yourself back to the CID headquarters, that is true. A: Yes, My Lord.

Q: There was a procedure through your chain of command to recall the files.

A: Yes, My Lord.

Q: When you reviewed the files and came across Mr. Gyang's statement and those of Mrs. Baah Mantey, Miss Fiona Gyamfi and Janet Bridget Aidoo (Exhibit 73) pointing to the existence of a 2nd test report from GSA which you did not find on the case docket did you report this to your chain of command

A: My Lord, in my evidence in chief I stated that the case was investigated by FFU and mentioned the team members which included the Unit Commander herself and so there was no need reporting to anybody because the Unit Commander herself was part and we have the investigator of the case giving statement.

Q: Now Sir, did the Unit Commander consider that it was appropriate for you to proceed regardless of the fact that though there is evidence on the docket of a scientific report, the report itself was nowhere to be found on the docket you had just taken over.

A: My Lord, that is also not so because the docket that we took over contained two scientific reports. My Lord, the investigation of Lithovit Foliar Fertilizer was that the Lithovit powder which A2 on behalf of A3 presented to CRIG through Cocobod for testing was not what he ended up supplying to Cocobod.

Q: The two scientific reports that you testified about those are reports on tests conducted on Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer, that is true.

A: Yes, My Lord.

Q: Now do you know that Mr Akrasi was under the N command of Mr. Gyang at EOCO.

A: Yes. My Lord.

The case has been adjourned to March 22, 2021, for cross-examination by the 2nd and 3rd Accused to continue.

Source: theheraldghana.com