Monday, 15 April

There was no bad report on Lithovit so I renewed certificate – Former CRIG boss tells court

Crime
Justice Aboagye Tandoh is the judge hearing the case on Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser

The former Executive Director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), Dr Anim Kwapong, has affirmed the efficacy of lithovit liquid fertiliser and clarified the renewal process during his testimony in the ongoing GHS217-million trial against former COCOBOD CEO Stephen Opuni, businessman Seidu Agongo and the latter's company Agricult Ghana Limited.

He emphasised in his evidence-in-chief that CRIG thoroughly examines products before renewing certificates, and in the case of lithovit, found no adverse findings.

“There was no adverse mention or anything or report in the CODAPEC Evaluation Report, so, I went ahead and signed [the renewal certificate],” Dr. Anim Kwapong told the court presided over by Justice Aboagye Tandoh on Tuesday, 21 November 2023.

Dr. Kwapong also detailed the certification renewal process, explaining that the Committee for Testing Chemicals and Machines evaluates field studies, farmer feedback, and product samples. 

"The Committee for Testing Chemicals and Machines (CTCM) will make sure that the requisite payment would have been made. They provided to me a field report, this field report contains information on field studies they have carried out on all agrochemicals and machines used in the previous years. During the period, when certificate had been issued and chemicals had actively been used in the field".

"So, the committee collects information about the efficacy of the product, farmers’ reactions and comments about the product they have used. They also pick samples of the product on the market and from other sources for testing at CRIG. They also check that the labels on the product conform to the information that was originally provided to the scientist", he continued.

“They write an annual report, titled CODAPEC Evaluation Report. With that report, I’m able to know chemicals that have passed the test in the field. And when they are submitting the renewal certificate to me, they attach the expired certificate. So, with this information available to me, I’m able to sign the certificate. I do that for all the certificates that I signed. So, in signing the first certificate, the first certificate here was attached to the one that I signed in 2016 and they had paid for the renewal, and there was no adverse mention or anything or report in the CODAPEC Evaluation report, so, I went ahead and signed.”

The former CRIG head refuted claims of misinformation and stated that lithovit has always been known as a liquid substance.

Led by Mr Sam Cudjoe, lead counsel for Dr Opuni, the witness disowned portions of the comments captured in the report attributed to him.

Mr Cudjoe asked him: "You were speaking the truth when you informed the committee that 'the first sample of Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser that I saw personally was liquid and I didn't have any idea that, in the past, it was powder. It was recently that I got to know that it was powder'. Is that not so?"

In his answer, Dr Kwapong, said: "I've not seen this proceeding from the committee. Indeed, I said the first sample of Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser that I saw personally was liquid, but this statement here that continues to say, 'I don't believe it was powder', I don't believe I said, because the first time I saw the sample, it was bottle and it was liquid. This sentence attributed to me can't be right".

Asked: "So, until today, have you seen a copy of the committee’s report?", Dr Kwapong said: "No, my Lord."

"Are you saying you were not given a copy?" Mr Cudjoe pushed further, to which Dr Kwapong responded: "My Lord, I was not given a copy". 

The three accused persons are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretence, willfully causing financial loss to the state, corruption by public officers and contravention of the Public Procurement Act in the purchase of Lithovit liquid fertiliser between 2014 and 2016.

They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 self-recognizance bail each.

Source: classfmonline.com