The long-held claim by prosecution witness, Peter Osei Amoako, that letters from COCOBOD's Procurement Unit to the Chief Executive for approval in the purchase of fertilizers, are always in draft, has been shredded under cross-examination.
The witness who is the Director of Finance at COCOBOD, had told the court in his evidence in chief that the Procurement Unit, does not prepare procurement letters for the signature of the Chief Executive.
He has been a witness in the trial of former CEO of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr. Stephen Opuni, businessman, Seidu Agongo, and Agricult Ghana Company Limited, who are facing 27 charges of willfully causing financial loss of ¢217 million 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 GH¢300,000 each.
Although, Osei Amoako's assertion is in sharp contrast to what the court was told by a two-time former Deputy Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah, when he mounted the witness box, he firmly held on to that claim while under cross-examination.
Dr. Adu-Ampomah, who signed a number of contracts on behalf of COCOBOD, as well as letters to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), insisted that those contracts he signed and the ones signed by the Chief Executive of COCOBOD, were all prepared by the Procurement Unit of COCOBOD, and his duty was only to sign to signal approval.
But the 6th prosecution witness, Peter Osei Amoako, rejected that position asserting rather strongly throughout his account that the Procurement Unit which he directly supervises only draft procurement letters.
However, when the case was called on Friday, November 27, 2020, Osei Amoako, was confronted with three different documents from COCOBOD which were filed by the Attorney General's Department that contradicted his claims.
Even though Chief State Attorney, Evelyn Keelson, tried to object to the tendering of the first document, she was overruled, so that document and two others, were admitted in evidence.
Osei Amoako, was shown one of the documents by Samuel Cudjoe, lead counsel for the first accused, and this ensued: "Osei Amoako, contrary to your evidence that the procurement manager draft PPA letters, I put it to you that he prepares the PPA letters for the signature of the Chief Executive."
The witness insisted, "My Lord I maintain that the draft is prepared for the review of the Chief Executive."
He was shown another exhibit, the lawyer asked the witness, "In fact on the invoice submitted, you have note 4 which is an instruction to the procurement manager to prepare PPA letter for the attention of the Chief Executive".
The witness answered, "My Lord we can start from minute 2. Minute 2 was for YFNA (for your necessary action) and discussion with Executive Director CHED and minute 3 is Executive Director CHED for FYNA. My Lord the last minute is now for procurement to prepare the PPA letter for the attention of the Chief Executive. My Lord as I said earlier it's a draft together with the attached documents which will go to the Chief Executive for his review, approval, and signing"
He was pushed further, "Do you see the word draft in the instructions?" he admitted, "My Lord I didn't see the word draft. My Lord the Chief Executive will review all documents attached to the letter before signing. So procurement manager cannot prepare a letter for the Chief Executive signature without his approval."
Below is what transpired in court on Friday
Q..Mr. Peter Osei Amoako, being the custodian of procurement documents in COCOBOD you will have seen the contract between COCOBOD and Faskay company limited which was executed on the 14th of December 2015
A…My Lord, I haven't
Q..you stated in court that you are the custodian of documents as the head of finance at COCOBOD
A..yes my Lord
Q..then you should definitely have this document which was given to the accused by prosecution who got it from COCOBOD in court
A…yes my Lord
Q…who witnessed this document
A…Mr. Charles T. K. Dodoo
Cudjoe…my Lord I want to tender it
Prosecution…the contract the counsel is tendering is not relevant to this case, it is a contract for the supply of S.O Abapa Cocoa Fertilizer between Ghana Cocoa board and Faskay company limited. My Lord the document has no bearing on this case and therefore irrelevant to the issues in the case. My Lord this case has to do with the procurement of particular fertilizer which is lithovit from a particular supplier which is Agricult Ghana Limited. My Lord under Section 51 of the Evidence Act this document is not relevant and same should not be admitted in this court
Cudjoe… contrary to the submission of my learned friend. This document is very crucial and relevant to our case. I believe my learned friend has not gone through the document and especially the proforma invoice submitted by the Faskay company limited, on it, it becomes very clear that contrary to the assertion of the witness that the procurement letters were just draft, this document is very clear on the face of it that the procurement manager is instructive to "prepare PPA document with an appropriate attachment for CE's action. This CE is the first accused and thus the document is clear evidence that it is not the CE who prepares the procurement letters. My Lord the relevance is that this document concerns procurement and the letters to PPA with respect to the procurement of fertilizers in general and therefore very relevant as it shows the course of dealing in COCOBOD.
Judge: let me read the document if it is fine then I will rule.
By court..upon hearing arguments for and against the tendering of the document it is my candid opinion that the document can go in for whatever it is worth. The objection is overruled and admitted into court as exhibit 54
Q..Mr. Osei Amoako, you would also have seen another contract between COCOBOD and Olam Ghana limited dated 2016
A..yes my Lord
Cudjoe..we want to tender
Prosecution: It can go in for what it is worth
By the court: Document tendered, not objected to, admitted, and mark as exhibit 55
Q. Mr. Osei Amoako you have a look at the proforma invoices in both exhibit 54 and 55, you will see that on both, you have an instruction to the procurement manager, isn't it
A..yes my Lord
Q..who instructs the procurement manager on the two exhibits
A..my Lord these are signatures. My Lord I want to make a statement here, "prepare PPA with the appropriate attachment for CE's action" my Lord in my evidence I said that you prepare a draft for the CE for his review and approval before signature. My Lord the CE review and approval and signing will have all documents attached for his attention
Q. Mr Osei Amoako, contrary to your evidence that the procurement manager draft PPA letters, I put it to you that he prepares the PPA letters for the signature of the CE
A…my Lord I maintain that the draft is prepared for the review of the CE.
Q…you definitely would have seen the contract which is dated 29th February 2016 between Outspan Ghana limited and Ghana Cocoa Board
A…my Lord it is a bit strange because the contract I'm seeing here has a certificate which is expired and signed by the CE
Cudjoe: My lord we want to tender
Prosecution: We have no objection
By court: document tendered not objected to, admitted and marked as exhibit 56
Q..in fact on the invoice submitted, you have note 4 which is an instruction to the procurement manager to prepare PPA letter for the attention of the CE
A..my Lord we can start from minute 2. Minute 2 was for YFNA (for your necessary action) and discussion with Executive Director CHED and minute 3 is Executive Director CHED for FYNA. My Lord the last minute is now for procurement to prepare the PPA letter for the attention of the Chief Executive. My Lord as I said earlier it's a draft together with the attached documents which will go to the Chief Executive for his review, approval and signing
Q..do you see the word draft in the instructions
A..my Lord I didn't see the word draft. My Lord the CE will review all documents attached to the letter before signing. So procurement manager cannot prepare a letter for the CE signature without his approval.
Q.in fact in COCOBOD the CE is bound to by the technical opinions of the experts in specific fields
A..my Lord yes but with an explanation. My Lord that is why all the technical experts will always recommend but do not approve and the decision to approve or reject is by the CE not the technical experts
Q.. you mentioned in your evidence in chief that in COCOBOD all fertilizers have to be tested for 2 years before it is purchased, do you still stand by this information
A…my Lord I said that all fertilizers are tested for a minimum of two years as the scientists at COCOBOD made to be aware
Q… which scientist told you
A…my Lord these are the scientists at CRIG
Q…in fact, no scientists at CRIG has told you this
A…my Lord I don't know where you got this …my Lord it is not correct
Q…and in fact, as you can see from exhibit B is a scientific report from CRIG that lithovit which has been tested for 6 months can be used on matured cocoa trees
A..my Lord no, I have seen the report, that is what the report I am holding is alluding to. My Lord in my evidence, I made mention of the fact that 2016 contracts for lithovit liquid fertilizer was cancelled because it didn't go through the minimum two years testing regime and the 2016 contracts were also based on the report I'm holding in exhibit B.
Q..then I would be right to state that the scientists who conducted the test and prepare the report misled COCOBOD
A…my Lord it's up to the scientists to tell you
Q…in your evidence before this court, you informed the court that before delivery of all fertilizers, the audit and general services department would have to conduct an inspection, isn't it?
A..no my Lord, my Lord I said the audit and special services
Q…my Lord that would be all