Dr. Opuni did not influence testing of Lithovit Fertilizer – AG’s witness

AG, Gloria Akuffo and Dr. Opuni AG, Gloria Akuffo and Dr. Opuni

A witness of the state in the ongoing trial of former COCOBOD CEO and two others has categorically maintained that Dr. Stephen Opuni played no role in the testing of lithovit fertilizer by a responsible Department under the Ministry of Agriculture.

Dr. Felicia Ansah-Amprofi, who is the National Director of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Department (PPRSD), which is the national plant protection organization for Ghana, also told the High Court she does not "personally and officially" know Dr. Opuni.

Former CEO of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Opuni, businessman Seidu 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.

The trial has travelled over three years with the state calling Dr. Ansah-Amprofi as its fourth witness on October 8, 2020.

The witness was the Deputy Director of PPRSD and Head of Pesticides and Fertilizer Regulatory Division when lithovit was subjected to laboratory test and certified for use in Ghana in 2013.

Agricult Ghana Company Ltd, the sole supplier of lithovit fertilizer was also certified to deal in fertilizer by the same organization.

Sounding very experienced, the witness who said she was "well versed" in the Plant and Fertilizer Act, 2010 (Act 803) walked the court through the process in getting a product and a company certified to deal in fertilizer in Ghana.

"If an individual or company wishes to do fertilizer business in Ghana, the product and company must be registered in the PPRSD office.

"You must apply through the hon. minister that you want to register your company and product to do business in Ghana. This is then minuted by the hon. minister to the director of PPRSD for action.

"The director also minutes it to the head of Pesticides and Fertilizer Regulatory Division (PFRD) for action.

"The division has procedures to go through. When the minutes get to the head of the division, the applicant is invited to have the procedure explained to him.

"For company registration, the applicant is asked to produce a certificate of registration and certificate to commence business from the Registrar General.

"For the registration of the product, the applicant is asked to produce the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) of the product and asked to apply again to bring samples of the product for laboratory analysis.

"After that a committee sits on the result, and if the laboratory result is the same or falls within the acceptable range of manufacturer's guaranteed results, the product is passed by the committee and the applicant informed to pay the fees so that he can pick his certificate. So basically, that is the procedure of ensuring fertilizers and companies are registered for business in Ghana."

When Principal State Attorney, Stella Ohene Appiah asked the witness about the certification of lithovit fertilizer, she confirmed:

"So Agricult Ghana Limited, the lithovit foliar fertilizer were registered, although the application came in in 2013 and laboratory analysis carried out in June 2013, payment for certification was delayed, certification was given in 2014 after they paid in 2014.

"Certificates were issued for Agricult Ghana Company Limited to commence business in Ghana".

Dr. Felicia Ansah-Amprofi however placed on record that even after a product has been certified by PPRSD, Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), a division under COCOBOD, is the sole institute clothed with the authority to certify cocoa fertilizers for use in the country.

Cross examination

Immediately the prosecution led the witness to give her evidence in chief, she was subjected to cross examination by the lead counsel for Dr. Opuni who is the first accused person.

This ensued between lawyer Samuel Cudjoe and the witness:

Q: Mrs. Ansah-Amprofi, you have never had any dealing with Dr. Opuni the first accused

A: No please

Q: In all your dealings with Agricult's lithovit, you never had contact or dealing with the first accused.

A: Yes please

Q: To your knowledge as far as your division and or directorate is concerned, Dr. Opuni has no connection with lithovit which was registered with your directorate.

A: yes please.

Source: angelonline.com.gh