Home / Court admits Agongo fertiliser into evidence

Court admits Agongo fertiliser into evidence

The state’s second prosecution witness in the case involving former COCOBOD CEO, Dr Stephen Opuni; and businessman Seidu Agongo, on Monday, 29 October 2018, mounted the stand to give his account of events the matter.

This followed the conclusion of the defence counsel’s cross-examination of the first prosecution witness, Dr Franklin Manu Amoah.

At the hearing on Monday, the state presented Dr Alfred Arthur, Acting Head of the Soil Science Division of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), who, for about three hours, narrated the role he played in the testing of Lithovit Foliar fertiliser.

Class91.3FM’s court correspondent Joshua Kodjo Mensah, who sat through the proceedings, reported that Dr Arthur was employed in October 2010, as a Research Scientist. He holds a B.Sc in Agric Science and a PhD in Soil Science.

Dr Arthur was involved in the testing of various fertiliser formulations. He worked on Fertagra Cacao, Fertagra Cacao Super, Fertagra Cacao Super Plus, Natural Organic Fertiliser, Elite, Lithovit Foliar fertiliser, Banzai Folia fertiliser, Green OK foliar fertiliser, Number 1 foliar fertiliser, Cocoa Wura Foliar fertiliser, among others.

He said a letter introducing Lithovit foliar fertiliser, signed by the former Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control of COCOBOD, was minuted to him by the Head of the Soil Science Division, Mr A.A. Afrifa, to go for the sample from the Chairman of the Committee for Testing Chemicals, Andrews Yaw Akrofi.

Dr Arthur said he went for the sample, which was in a whitish cylindrical container with a green lid.

After collecting the sample, Dr Arthur said he opened the container and found a fine powdery substance in it.

He said he cross-checked the content of the container with the Material Safety Data Sheet that came with it, which, according to him, confirmed that the Lithovit foliar sample was, indeed, powdery.

Mr Sam Cudjoe, Counsel for Dr Opuni, objected to the admission of the Lithovit Foliar sample into evidence. He argued that it is impossible that the sample is intact in the container since the witness claimed he worked on it in 2013.

However, Director of Public Prosecution, Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, counter-argued that the witness was yet to provide the quantum used for the testing, as well as the type of analysis conducted. But Mr Cudjoe described the response from the DPP as amounting to coaching the witness. Justice C.Y. Hornyenuga overruled the objection.

Dr Arthur then told the court that the Data Sheet that accompanied the Lithovit sample stated that the product was from Germany and manufactured by Zeovita GMBH with a chemical composition of CaCO3 from natural limestone deposits with micro-nutrients. He said it was readily soluble, odourless, grey in colour and powdery.

Dr Arthur also told the court that the test on Lithovit lasted for six months. He said he was on a trek with one Dr Richard Adu Acheampong in Sefwi Wiawso in the Western Region when his boss at the time, Mr A. A. Afrifa called to tell him that Dr Opuni needed a report on the nursery stage test of Lithovit.

On 16 January 2014, Dr Arthur said he forwarded his report of the six-month test of Lithovit to his boss, Mr Afrifa.

The DPP showed Dr Arthur a certain document and Dr Arthur told the court it was the letter or report he forwarded to his boss, which was to also be forwarded to Dr Opuni.

Mr Cudjoe objected to the letter on grounds that there was just a signature to an Executive Summary. According to him, it was not dated and there was no indication that it came from Dr Arthur.

He cited Section 52 of the Evidence Act, which says: “…The court, in its discretion, could exclude evidence if the evidence is outweighed by the fact that admitting it will lead to prejudice or endanger the case”.

He added that it is even possible that Dr Arthur wrote that report today (Monday, 29 October 2018) since it was neither dated nor properly signed.

Counsel for the 2nd and 3rd accused persons, Mr Benson Nutsukpui, associated himself to that submission.

However, the DPP quoted section 136 (1) of the Evidence Act, which reads: “Where the relevancy of evidence depends on authenticity or identity, that requirement is satisfied by evidence showing that the matter in evidence is what its proponent says”.

She said it will be a miscarriage of justice if the said document was withdrawn and not admitted.

Presiding Judge C.Y. Hornyenuga said the document will not prejudice the case of the accused persons and that it was relevant.

He overruled the objection and admitted the document in evidence.

The case has been adjourned to Friday, 2 November 2018.

Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges the alleged GHS 271.3 million COCOBOD fertiliser scandal.

Source: Ghana/ClassFMonline.com

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