COCOBOD trial: Contradiction galore as UG professor fumbles under cross-examination

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A chemistry lecturer at the University of Ghana, Dr. Emmanuel Yaw Osei-Twum, received his baptism of fire while testifying in court on behalf of the Chemistry Department of the University in the ongoing trial of former CEO of COCOBOD and two others.

Ironically, both the Head of Department who signed a report which is in evidence, the lead analyst who worked on it, as well as the Secretary in the Department who wrote the report, were unable to bear witness for the state, but Dr. Yaw Osei-Twum elected to represent the Chemistry Department although he is a parttime staff.

He told the High Court on Wednesday that he together with the lead analyst Prof. Augustine Kwame Donkor conducted a research into Lithovit fertilizer in May 2017.  The EOCO in April 2017 contracted the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana to analyse a sample of Lithovit Fertilizer.

“We were to determine the constituents and to find out how much of each was in the sample. We were also to tell EOCO whether the sample was fertiliser,”  the fifth prosecution witness told the court the scope of their work.

“And who wrote the report?” he was asked by the prosecution, Chief State Attorney Evelyn Keelson. He responded by saying “Prof. Donkor and I wrote the report” and was signed by the Head of Chemistry Dept. Prof Louis Doamekpor.

Though EOCO’s request to the Department had nothing to do with cocoa, the researchers, as lawyers for the accused suspect prejudice, proceeded to relate their research to cocoa.

“We said the material identified to be Lithovit, the application on cocoa farms from nursery to growth and yield stages remains experimental because currently, there is no evidence in the literature for the applications of Lithovit on cocoa plants,” Prof. Yaw Osei-Twum told the court when he was asked about their conclusion.

His testimony comes on the back of avalanche of evidence in court, pointing to a number of literature authored by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) on Lithovit fertilizer and its usage on matured cocoa.

Dr. Emmanuel Yaw Osei-Twum was subsequently grilled under cross examination by lawyer Samuel Cudjoe, the lead counsel for the first accused Dr. Stephen Opuni.

Per the record of the Chemistry Department as published on its website, Prof. Emmanuel Yaw Osei-Twum is a Visiting Scholar.

The lawyer therefore got off discrediting claims by the witness that he is a permanent staff of the University of Ghana.

Q. In fact Dr., are you a permanent staff of the Chemistry Dept.?

A. Yes, I am.

Q. In fact you don’t work there now?

A. Yes I do. I work there now

Q. How old are you?

A. I am 68 going to 69.

Q. Then you cannot be a permanent employee of the Chemistry Department, having passed the statutory age of retirement.

A. My lord, when this work was done, I was a permanent employee of University of Ghana and currently I am a part time lecturer at the same university and same department.

Q. Dr. I am putting it to you since you were 65 when EOCO sent the sample, you could only be on contract with the Chemistry Dept of the UG and not a permanent staff.

A. The University of Ghana policy is when you turn 60, you are given a retirement contract and you continue to be a permanent staff of the university until you are 70. if you are at the he professorial rank you continue to be permanent staff till you are 79.

Meanwhile, Dr. Emmanuel Yaw Osei-Twum also denied that EOCO briefed the team that work on the sample, claiming, “the first time EOCO came they met with us with the sample. They submitted the sample through the head of department and we were called to meet the EOCO officials. We did not have any discussions, it was just to take the samples.”

“I am putting it to you Dr, if you had played any part in the scientific research at least your name or signature would have been on the report,” the lawyer asserted.

But he replied, “The report has only the name of the head of department. The scientists did write the report and gave it to the head of department to take it from there. Since the head of department was to sign the report, there was no need for the scientists to have their names and signature on that report.”

Interestingly, despite stating in his evidence in chief and under cross examination that he wrote the research report with Prof. Donkor, the narrative changed when he was subjected to strict proof by counsel for the second accused Seidu Agongo, lawyer Nutifafa Nutsukpui.

Q. You told this court that yourself and Prof. Donkor did write this report you just testified, is that correct?

A. We prepared the report.

Q. When you say you prepared the report is that different from writing the report.

A. Yes my lord.

Q. Please tell the honourable court what your preparation of the report means?

A. We put together the data. We formatted the data the way we wanted it, we put the data together and prepared the data in the way the report should be written.

Q. Sir, so who in fact wrote this report?

A. We have a Secretary in the department who do write reports for us.

Q. Sir would you have had the opportunity to review the report that is written by the departmental Secretary you just referred to?

A. Yes

Q. Sir, did you in fact review this report, in respect of which you have testified today?

A. Completely

Q. So you stand by the contents of the said report?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. So, today is not the first time you became aware that your department had been briefed by EOCO on exactly why they needed the analysis done, that is correct?

A. Yes, today is not the first day.

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