The third defence witness in the trial of former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD, Dr Stephen KwabenaOpuni, yesterday appealed to the government to bring back lithovit liquid fertliser.
Mr Thomas Amo Amankwaa, a cocoa farmer, from Berekum, in the Bono Region, made the call when he appeared before the High Court, (Criminal Division), in Accra, to give testimony in the ongoing trail.
On Wednesday, Mr Amankwaa told Justice Clement Honyenugah, a Supreme Court (SC) judge, sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge that lithovit liquid fertilizer, which is the subject of controversy in the trial, is efficacious.
He had told the court that lithovit liquid fertiliser is the best fertiliser he has ever used for the past 20 years, and that prior to its usage, he applied granular fertiliser on his cocoa farm.
The state is prosecuting DrOpuni and MrSeiduAgongo, the Managing Director of Agricult Ghana Limited, the company that supplied fertiliser to COCOBOD for supply to cocoa farmers in the 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 crop seasons ,for alleged procurement breaches and causing financial loss to state.
In answering a question from NutifafaNutsukpui, counsel for MrAgongo, and Agricult Ghana Limited, about the involvement of accused and causing financial loss to the state, the witness said accused did not cause financial loss to the state.
MrAmankwaa said he and other farmers had cause to appeal for the supply of lithovit liquid fertiliser through local FM radio stations in Berekum when COCOBOD stopped supplying lithovit to cocoa farmers in the 2017/2018 crop season.
In March 2018, the Attorney-General charged DrOpuni and Agongo with 27 counts for allegedly engaging in illegalities that caused financial loss of GH¢271.3 million to the state, and led to the distribution of sub-standard fertiliser to cocoa farmers.
Agongo is alleged to have used fraudulent means to sell sub-standard fertiliser to COCOBOD for onward distribution to cocoa farmers, while DrOpuni is accused of facilitating the act by not allowing Agongo’s products to be tested and certified, as required by law.
The two accused have pleaded not guilty to all the 27 charges and are currently on bail in the sum of GH¢300,000 each.
Justice Honyenugah was barred from hearing the criminal case by a 3-2 majority decision of the Supreme Court over a possible bias against the accused.
But, three months after the ruling, an enhanced 4-3 majority decision upheld a review application filed by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, and asked Justice Honyenugah to continue proceedings.
Lawyers for DrOpuni accused the trial judge of bias for making pre-judicial comments and also excluding 18 documents (exhibits) tendered through a prosecution witness without objection.
BY MALIK SULLEMANA
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