COCOBOD trial: Dead scientist authored CRIG report in 2017 – Witness tells court

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It has emerged that a supposed lead scientist who authored a scientific report that enabled COCOBOD to purchase Omnifert fertilizer in 2018, died even way before the testing of the said fertilizer began.

The High Court hearing the trial of former COCOBOD boss, Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo has yet to unravel the mystery surrounding how the deceased, Quaye AK, got involved in that report.

Already admitted in evidence as Exhibit 41, the scientific report read in part: “A sample of Omni Cocoa Aduane fertilizer was submitted by Omnifert limited through the Cocoa Research Institute on 16th February 2017 for laboratory verification of nutrient content.”

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But, third prosecution witness, Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah stated as a matter of fact that Quaye AK whose name appeared in the Omnifert report died before 2017.

The witness who is a former deputy Chief Executive at COCOBOD in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control happened to be the recipient of the said scientific report from CRIG involving a dead scientist.

Under cross-examination on Monday, July 6, 2020, Counsel for the second and third accused persons, Nutifafa Nutsukpui who was holding brief for Benson Nutsukpui asked the witness if he knew when the scientist passed on.

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Dr. Adu-Ampomah told the court, “I can’t tell but way before we came in the second time.” The witness was brought back from retirement to occupy the deputy chief executive position again when the Akufo-Addo administration came to power in 2017.

The scientific report in question which paved way for COCOBOD to purchase fertilizer from Omnifert was dated 19th May 2017, the witness confirmed.

Q: and according to you Quaye might have passed on prior to 19th May 2017

A: yes my lord

Q: yet COCOBOD relied on that report and procured Omnifert, that is also correct in 2018

A: yes my lord

Q: even though it was known to you that the lead author of that report could not possibly had led that team from his grave

A: my lord he was part of it and as I have previously said, it takes a minimum of two years to do the testing, the fact that his name is on it implies that he was part of the team that started this work

Q: So COCOBOD accepted the report wholeheartedly without reservation

A: yes my lord

Q: Do you know that per Exhibit 41 itself, Omnifert cocoa aduani fertilizer could not have been tested for two years

A: Available evidence at COCOBOD indicates that the fertilizer has been extensively tested by CRIG

Q: According to the authors of Exhibit 41, the sample of that fertilizer was received by CRIG on 17th of February 2017. I am putting that to your Sir

A: No my lord, it is not possible and from record I can tell you that Omnifert is one of the most tested by CRIG

In a related development, the controversy surrounding the purchase of Cocoa Nti fertilizer by COCOBOD was revisited.

Lawyer Nutifafa relied on a number of documents that have already been tendered in evidence to prove that at the time COCOBOD procured Cocoa Nti fertilizer in 2018, the product had not been tested. The witness however disagreed.

Dr. Adu-Ampomah was made to read a letter from CRIG addressed to COCOBOD which stated that there was “no record or evidence that cocoa nti fertilizer was previously submitted to CRIG for testing whatsoever”. The letter was dated 21st November 2016.

Although the witness claimed a “subsequent test” was conducted based on which COCOBOD purchased the fertilizer in 2018, he could not tell the court when that test was conducted.

Q: I’m putting it to you that there was no subsequent testing of cocoa nti whatsoever carried in 2017.

A: my lord it was carried out

Q: when was the final report submitted to COCOBOD

A: My lord I don’t recollect the date but I’m 100% certain that the final report was delivered.

Q: Sir, I am putting it to you, no such document exist that is why none of such has been discovered by the prosecution

A: my lord the final report was submitted to COCOBOD, based on that COCOBOD instructed CRIG to issue out a certificate to the company upon which the company subsequently used to bid.

…..

Q: I’m putting it to you that prior to Exhibit 32, CRIG had never issued a certificate covering that product called cocoa nti

A: my lord it is not true, all companies listed here have valid certificates, otherwise the PPA would not approve it.

Q: Is it the case that PPA would approve a procurement by COCOBOD only based on a valid CRIG certificate

Q: Yes my lord, because the entity examination committee would never forward to PPA without seeing any valid certificate.

Q: so that once PPA approves the purchase of that agrochemical, it will mean necessarily that such product had a valid CRIG certification, would that be correct

A: Yes my lord,

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