CRIG scientists participated in the approval of Lithovit fertilizer – Fmr COCOBOD Board Chair

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It has been revealed in court that scientists from CRIG, the scientific division of COCOBOD, were in the meetings that discussed and approved Lithovit liquid fertilizer for management of COCOBOD to purchase.

The former board chairman of COCOBOD, Ambassador Daniel Ohene Agyekum, made this disclosure under cross-examination led by Chief State Attorney Evelyn Keelson on Friday, June 24, 2022.

He was speaking via a video link from Kumasi in the trial of former COCOBOD Chief Executive Dr Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo for allegedly causing financial loss to the state, among other charges, in the purchase of Lithovit liquid fertilizer between 2014 and 2016.
It is the case of prosecution that the Lithovit fertiliser bought at the time did not give value for money, an allegation that have already been countered by two cocoa farmers who gave evidence on behalf of the first accused person.

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Revisiting the claim, Evelyn Keelson put to Amb. Ohene Agyekum that, the “first accused misled” the board to approve a product not tested and recommended by CRIG.

But the former Chairman rejected that position and pointed to the caliber of people present at the board meetings when Lithovit was approved.

“Again and Again, at all these board meetings we had representatives of scientists with doctorate degrees. My lord these scientists attended the meetings which considered the purchasing, procurement of the various agrochemicals including the litovit liquid fertiliser at all times.
“And my lord, it was only on the basis of their recommendations that the final decision was taken.”

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Though the witness stated that he didn’t have the benefit of verifying some documents being referred to by the Prosecution, he maintained, “the fact of the matter is that we did hold meetings, based on the recommendations by the technical experts, at which meetings the records at the board will show that we did give approval for the purchase of lithovit liquid fertiliser.”

Prosecution also asserted, “I am putting it to you that the lithovit liquid fertiliser which the first accused purchased for COCOBOD between 2014 and December 2015 was not what CRIG tested and recommended to COCOBOD,”

In response, the witness stressed, “my Lord, my recollection on this matter is that the board, the ETC approved a product name Lithovit liquid fertiliser. My lord that is the product which the board approved and nothing else”.

The prosecution finally put to the witness that he and his board had no idea of the nature and composition of the Lithovit foliar fertiliser that CRIG had recommended to COCOBOD to purchase.

Amb. Ohene Agyekum noted that he was not a technical person and majority of his board members were not scientists.
However, he pointed out, “my lord that is precisely the reason why we invited the very technocrats, experts from CRIG to assist the board in taking a decision.”

The accounts of the witness also contradict that of seventh prosecution witness, Chief Inspector Thomas Mercer Prempeh who told the High Court last year that except the 1st Accused, none of the board members as well as the ETC members knew about the kind of fertilizer (Lithovit) they approved for purchase.

Moreover, Amb. Ohene Agyekum, under cross-examination by Nutifafa Nutsukpui, counsel for Seidu Agongo, a fortnight ago told the court:

“My lord my reaction will be that, that evidence is tantamount to insulting the intelligence of the members of the ETC. We knew what we were about. My lord with all due respect we were not a bunch of ignoramuses. Even if we were not experts, we were literate enough, knowledgeable enough and intelligent enough to read or appreciate the distinction between solid material and a liquid. And in this particular case, the technical presentation by the experts from CRIG, we clearly understood both the liquid and solid fertilisers that we approved.”

The trial continues on Monday, June 27.

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