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AG’s witness ‘exonerates’ Seidu Agongo in COCOBOD trial

Director of Finance at COCOBOD, Peter Osei Amoako has absolved Seidu Agongo, CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, of any collusion leading to the award of contracts to supply Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer to COCOBOD between 2014 and 2016.

The witness, on Thursday, told the High Court in Accra that suppliers including Agongo’s Agricult Ghana Limited play no role in the budgeting as well as the procurement plan when COCOBOD plans for the crop season.

“Now Sir, no supplier of goods or services to COCOBOD ever plays any role in the consolidated budget and procurement plan processes at COCOBOD, that is correct?” Nutifafa Nutsukpui the counsel for Seidu Agongo, who is holding brief of Benson Nutsupui asked the witness.

Peter Osei Amoako, who was fond of explaining almost every answer he gave in court, was forthright and positive with his answer, “Yes, my lord”.

Evidence in Chief

Asked to explain how the procurement process was generally done at COCOBOD during his evidence in chief, Peter Osei Amoako said the procurement processes starts with the preparation of budgets.

He said the budgets were prepared by various units and consolidated as one budget for the whole institution after which it was forwarded to the Board for approval.

Consolidated budget was then referred to the Finance Committee of the Board for discussion, he stated, where the Committee would prepare their report based on the budget and submit to the Board for approval.

The witness then said once the budget was approved, the procurement plan was extracted from the budget; the plan was also referred to the Board for consideration and approval.

“The Board will then refer the procurement plan to the procurement committee of the Board for discussion,” he pointed out.

The witness said the procurement Committee would prepare their report and re-submit to the Board for approval and once the plan was approved, the plan was posted on the website of the PPA.

He said in the procurement plan, there would be various items and methods of procurement and depending on the time, COCOBOD would now initiate the processes for the procurement of the items in the plan.

Peter Osei Amoako said depending on the method, it could be single sourcing, restrictive tendering, national or international competitive tendering.

“Whatever the method is, we will invite suppliers who tender for any goods or services then approval will be sought from the PPA,” he added.

He told the court that once PPA had granted the approval, COCOBOD would issue a notification of award to the supplier and the supplier based on the notification, they would submit a performance guarantee.

The Director of Finance submitted that once the performance guarantee was accepted by the Legal Department of COCOBOD, a contract was prepared between COCOBOD and the supplier. The supplier would now deliver on the contract, he added.

He said after delivering, COCOBOD would inspect the goods or services based on the contract signed and once everything was authenticated by the inspection team of COCOBOD, payment processes were initiated by the supplier submitting an invoice requesting for payment.

He said all the necessary documents would be attached and forwarded to audit for vetting and any payment beyond GHS10, 000 went to the CEO for approval before payment was made.

He said in the case of fertiliser, although fertiliser goes through the same budgetary processes, before it was procured, it has to be tested by CRIG.

He said once it had gone through the testing regime, a report was issued by CRIG and forwarded to the CEO for approval, and once the report was approved, CRIG issued a certificate to the supplier valid for a year.

“Once this processes have been completed, COCOBOD will now consider that particular fertiliser as part of the list of fertilisers to be procured,” he added.

He said based on this arrangement, suppliers would be requested to submit quotations, where the COCOBOD would now send a letter to PPA to sole source those fertilisers.

The witness said once approval was granted, notification of approval was issued to the suppliers. The suppliers would then submit performance guarantees, where it would be vetted and Okayed by the Legal Department.

“All necessary documentation will be forwarded to audit for vetting with recommendation from the audit unit for approval and payment,” he said.

The Trial

Former CEO of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Opuni, businessman Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Company Limited, are facing 27 charges which include 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 ¢300,000 each.

Below is what transpired on December 10 during cross-examination

Q: Sir, from your review of the documentation was there a consolidated budget approved by the Board of Cocobod for the years 2015 and 2016.

A: Yes. My Lord Sir.

Q: Was there also a procurement plan approved by the Board of Cocobod for the years 2015 and 2016 from your review of the documentation.

A: Yes, My Lord.

Q: Now Sir, no supplier of goods or services to Cocobod ever plays any role in the consolidated budget and procurement plan processes at Cocobod, that is correct.

A: Yes, My Lord

Q: Sir, I put it to you that until 2016 when the PPA Act was amended the CE was not the head of the ETC at Cocobod

A: My Lord, I have to look at the Act but I was speaking from 2017 and I know that it is CE.

Lawyer Nutifafa Nutsukpui ended his cross-examination without re-examination by the Director of Public Prosecution Yvonne Attakora-Obuobisa.

The court presided over by Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga a Supreme Court judge sitting as additional High Court judge adjourned the case to 11th January 2021.




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