Confusion: AG’s witness says Lithovit Fertilizer is liquid; his own report says powder

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The 5th prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of former COCOBOD boss and two others made a jaw-dropping revelation in court when he admitted that the Lithovit fertilizer captured in his own scientific report was powdery, but had early on told the court what he worked on was liquid.

The testimony of Dr. Emmanuel Yaw Osei-Twum of the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana adds to a number of seemingly contradictory statements thrown in by witnesses in the case.

Giving his evidence in chief on Wednesday, October 21, Dr. Emmanuel Yaw Osei-Twum who claimed he worked on the sample with another scientist told the court the sample they received from EOCO in April 2017 for testing was liquid.

Even under cross-examination, the University of Ghana lecturer referred to the sample as liquid until he was confronted with his own report which is in evidence by lawyer Nutifafa Nutsukpui, stand-in lead counsel for Seidu Agongo on October 27.

Q: Sir, you see if this your report was in fact a report on the substance EOCO delivered to you, you would have been reporting on a liquid and not powdery, I am putting that to you.

A. My Lord, that is true and the results we got from our testing is what we have in the report.

Not fertilizer expert

Meanwhile, Dr. Emmanuel Yaw Osei-Twum has also conceded that he has no expertise in the field of fertilizer.

When he was asked the number of publications he has on fertilizers as an expert, he replied, “My Lord, I am not an expert in fertilizer chemistry, I am analytical chemist and my work covers a broad range of samples. So I don’t claim to be an expert in fertilizers.”

He went further vehemently stating that, “there is no field in chemistry called fertilizer chemistry”.

Read excerpts of the cross examination below

Q. Sir, I take it that the request from EOCO was in writing

A. My Lord that is correct.

Q. Do you have a copy.

A We have a copy and that request is captured on page 2 of our report in Exhibit H

Q. Sir, who signed the report.

A: My Lord, I cannot remember,

Q. Sir you see, the values provided in the MSDS are not absolute. There are acceptable ranges, is that correct

A. My Lord that is correct and if one takes for instance calcium carbonate it ranges from 79% to 85%.

Q. Sir, but that is not indicated in your report, is it.

A. My Lord, we were not reporting the values from the MSDS, we were reporting our results.

Q. Now Sir, for instance handling and storage, how did you assess that with the sample that EOCO delivered to you.

A. As it is stated in the report Lithovit is said to be powdery and therefore dust creation must be avoided.

Q. Sir, the sample you tested according to you was liquid and you keep saying they said Lithovit was powdery, who told you

A. My Lord, I kept saying it is said, I didn’t say they say.

Q: Sir, you see if this your report was in fact a report on the substance EOCO delivered to you, you would have been reporting on a liquid and not powdery, I am putting that to you.

A. My Lord, that is true and the results we got from our testing is what we have in the report.

Q. Now Sir, you see, all you did was to reproduce the contents of the MSDS, had it signed and claimed that you had done an independent analysis of the substance that EOCO had delivered to you. I am putting that to you Sir

A. My Lord. the results in Table 2 page 6 of our report in Exhibit H were the results we obtained from our analysis. That is the critical part of this report I said earlier that we were not going to reinvent the wheel. The critical part of this whole report is Table 2 and that table that we supplied did not have the hand writing on that page 6.

Q. Sir, how many publications do you have on fertilizers. you are an expert

A. My Lord, I am not an expert in fertilizer chemistry, I am analytical chemist and my work covers a broad range of samples. So I don’t claim to be an expert in fertilizers.

Q. Sir, but fertilizer chemistry is a specialty in field of chemistry and persons practice that. that is correct.

A. My Lord, that is not correct. There is no field in chemistry called fertilizer chemistry.

Q. So Sir, when you just said “I am not an expert in fertilizer chemistry”. Did you just mislead the court, Sir.

A. My Lord I am not misleading the court.

Q. Sir you see, I am putting it to you that there is a field of specialty in fertilizers in chemistry.

A. My Lord, if there is any field of fertilizers then it would be in crop science, not in chemistry.

Q. Did you have a field in Chemistry in Material Science, is there anything like that, Sir

A. No. Material Science is in Engineering.

Q. How many publications does Prof. Donkor have on fertilizers

A. Prof. Donkor is not here, I cannot answer that question for him.

Q. I am putting it to you that both of you who you claimed carried out the analysis on this sample, do not in the greatest respect know what you were looking for

A. My lord, we knew exactly what we were looking for

Q. And that is why of a ten-page report you would copy and reproduce contents of the MSDS on five out of those ten pages, I am putting that to you

A. My Lord, that is not correct, if you go to page 9 of our report in Exhibit H references we got a number of information from the literature and as I said we were not going to reinvent the wheel. If we were to do those tests basically to reinvent the wheel, I am sure we will be doing those tests and the report won’t be out.

Q. And Sir, you see, you did not do the work entrusted to you by EOCO, you cut corners based on your answer immediately above, I am putting that to you

A. My Lord, we did not cut corners. The request says we were to examine and that included literature review as well as tests.

Former CEO of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Opuni, businessman Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Company Limited, are facing 27 charges of willfully causing financial loss of ¢217 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.

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