Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, a Prosecution Witness in the trial involving Dr Stephen Opuni and one other, has said then CEO of COCOBOD signed a letter requesting Agricult Ghana Limited to supply 700,000 litres of the liquid fertilizer.
The cost of the 700,000 litres supply of the fertilizer was $19.250 million.
Dr Adu-Ampomah, who is the Special Advisor in charge of Cocoa Affairs to the Minister of Agriculture said this when he was led by Mrs Evelyn Keelson to give his evidence in chief said even though the product supplied to COCOBOD was liquid, the fertilizer sample submitted for testing to Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) was described in the Material Safety Data Sheet as powdery substance.
He said at COCOBOD when a Division decides to purchase fertilizer or any agro-chemical, it makes a request to the CEO and if it was within their budget, the CEO would instruct the procurement department to place an advertisement in the dailies with a specified product.
He said the advertisement would also contain what the Board wants from the companies to provide for the bidding process, which includes Company registration certificate, Tax payment documents, Certificate from EPA and Valid Certificate from CRIG.
He said when the companies have submitted their bidding documents, an entity tender committee would be constituted to review the application and this committee was chaired by the CEO with members from other user departments, procurement, and legal.
Dr Adu-Ampomah, who is the third prosecution witness, said after the review of the documents, the committee writes a report and submit it to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) detailing how, the process was carried out and the winning company.
The witness, who is also a Former Executive Director of CRIG, said when the PPA approves the bid, then the contract was awarded to the company to supply the products.
Asked, why a valid Certificate was required from CRIG, the witness said it was because, Cocoa as a food item, it was important that any chemical applied to it does not affect the quality and also when the product was applied to it, it should be efficacious.
“If the product is to increase yield, it should increase yield and if it is to control pest, it should be able to control pest,” he added.
He said for this reason, COCOBOD and CRIG has come out with a protocol to ascertain the effectiveness of these agrochemicals and it was CRIG that was tasked to test these chemicals, after which a certificate would be issued to the company.
Dr Adu-Ampomah, who was one time the Deputy CEO of COCOBOD in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control, said the Certificate was to show that the product could be used on Cocoa and this comes with a fee with and a year’s validity.
He said the renewal of the certificate would depend on how CRIG ascertain the use of the product in the previous year, whether it was effective or not and it was based on that, that a renewal would be done
Asked, whether, he knew Dr Opuni, he responded yes, and said it was back from his days at the FDA and also, he met him in at a couple of meetings, when he was consulting for some Dutch and American NGOs on the improvement of livelihoods for farmers.
On Seidu Agongo, the second accused person, the witness said when he was invited to join the COCOBOD transition, they were reviewing some anomalies in the procurement process of some agrochemicals by the previous management and he was invited.
He said they realised that some of the agrochemicals have not gone through the full cycle testing, however, these products have been procured by the previous management of COCOBOD.
“We thought their efficacy can be compromised, so we invited the Companies affected for discussions on the issues and it was then that Seidu came to the meeting to say that he is the Managing Director for three of the products,” he said.
Asked, whether, he knew the company Agricult Ghana Limited, the witness answered in the affirmative, saying on May 10, 2013, he was then the Deputy CEO of COCOBOD, when management of the Company submitted a sample of fertilizer with a letter to my office and a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the product to be tested on Cocoa by CRIG.
He said the MSDS accompanying the fertilizer was from the original manufacturer and it was lithovit fertilizer, which was powdery and this letter from the Company was addressed to him.
He said the MSDS was prepared by the original manufacturers and it described the product in its physical state and it also showed the chemical composition, mode of application and its effect.
The Special Advisor to the Minister said, after he received the letter and the sample, he wrote to the then Executive Director of CRIG and forwarded everything to commence testing, and that normally testing of fertilizer takes two years and it was around the same time that he retired.
He said he later got to know at the transition meeting that in February 25, 2014 barely nine months after the sample was submitted, a certificate was issued for the product and the then CEO of COCOBOD
signed a letter requesting the company to supply 700,000 litres of the fertilizer.
Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 each self-recognisance bail.
The case has been adjourned to Monday, May 20 for continuation.
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Intellectual Property owners to earn Royalties – Minister
The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MoTAC) is set to roll out policies and structures that will ensure that intellectual property owners received royalties for their creative works, Mrs Barbara Oteng Gyasi, the sector Minister has announced.
She said such initiatives would reduce the constant misunderstandings, strained relationships and accusations of unfairness within the industry and ensure wealth creation for the practitioners.
She said this at a day’s seminar organized by Vodafone Ghana Music Awards and Character House in Accra.
The seminar, which was held on the theme: “The Future of Music Business”, attracted musicians, music producers, corporate organisations among others.
It was aimed at equipping industry players with the requisite knowledge about the numerous opportunities they could make wealth through music, as well as to offer them the opportunity to network.
Mrs Oteng Gyasi said the Ministry was aware of the significant role the creative arts industry could contribute to positively impact the economy, in terms of providing employment and generation of income for the youth, as well as the country.
“This has culminated in the development of the creative arts bill currently pending before parliament to provide the legal framework for the creative arts industry”, she said.
“The act, when passed, will help to grow the industry, both nationally and internationally through partnerships and industry development assistance, which will facilitate fast ways to commercialization and innovation”, she noted.
She therefore underscored the need for industry players such as Producers, Directors and Marketers to employ professionals in their dealings in order to maximize the potential of the industry.
Commending VGMA and Charter House for organizing the seminar, Mrs Oteng Gyasi said such seminars were imperative if challenges confronting the industry were to be tackled.
“The Ministry shall, therefore, facilitate a calendar of seminars and workshops to address the many gaps in the industry. The seminar would inspire our musicians and address some of the challenges currently confronting the industry”, she said.
She assured the musicians and other stakeholders within the industry of the Ministry’s commitment and support to build a robust and sustainable industry that would place Ghanaian music and artists on the global front to derive the economic benefits of their trade.
Madam Solafunmi Oyeneye, Senior Channels Manager of MTV urged musicians to always put their target audience first when composing a song.
She encouraged up and coming artists to own their music, especially their music videos because no one would do that for them.
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Stonebwoy pulls gun as fans clash on stage at VGMA
A night of celebration for both industry players and fans in the showbiz sector, turned out to be a night of shame and regrets as the 20th edition of the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA 2019), was marred by violence.
Fans of eternal rivals and Dancehall artistes Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy clashed on stage in a fistfight forcing Stonebwoy to pull out a pistol in the process.
This caused pandemonium at the New Dome of the Accra International Conference Center (AICC), on Sunday dawn and subsequently halted the flow of the ceremony.
Calm was restored after over 30 minutes with the program continuing, but not in the same light as it started.
It all started when Stonebwoy mounted the stage to receive an award as the Reggae Artist of the Year.
Stonebwoy prior to receiving the award gestured with his five fingers (indicating he had won the award five times in a row) to his bitterest rival Shatta Wale who was nominated in the same category.
Subsequently, Shatta Wale unhappy with the announcement stormed the stage with his fans, but it was unclear what they were up to going on the stage.
Fans of Stonebwoy’s tried to prevent them from coming on the stage and that begun the fuss. It was a war-like situation with many in the auditorium running for cover.
The “Bawasaba” hitmaker later apologized for the incident after he received the Songwriter of the year award.
“I only had to act on natural instincts…I come in peace and I go in peace…by their deeds we have all seen them,” he said.
Meanwhile, two of the categories including the big one- ‘Artiste of the year’ was not announced due to the dissension that occurred.
Kwami Sefa Kayi one of the MCs for the event, announced that the winners for those categories would be announced in a press conference at a later date.
Here are the winners for the night: Traditional Artiste of the Year – Kwan Pa; Instrumentalist of the Year – Mr Okyere; Lifetime Achievement Award – Dr Rev Mrs Mary Ghansah, Obuoba J.A. Adofo, Prof Kofi Abraham; Unsung Artiste of the Year – Kula; Gospel Song of the Year – Diana Hamilton for ‘Mo Ne Yo’; Highlife Song of the Year – Shatta Wale for ‘My Level’. Reggae/Dancehall Song of the Year – Shatta Wale for ‘Gringo’; Hiphop Song of the Year – Kwesi Arthur for ‘Anthem’; Hiplife Song of the Year – ‘Obiaa Wone Master’ by Yaa Pono feat Stonebwoy; Afropop Song of the Year – ‘Akwaaba’ by Guilty Beatz feat Mr Eazi, Pappy Kojo and Patapaa; Gospel Artiste of the year – Diana Hamilton; Highlife Artiste of the Year – Kuami Eugene; Hiplife/Hippop Artiste of the Year – Medikal; Reggae/Dancehall Artiste of the Year – Stonebwoy; Video of the Year award – MzVee – Come and See My Moda feat Yemi Alade (Dir Xbills Ebenezer); Best Collaboration of the Year – Stonebwoy – Kpoo Keke feat Medikal, Kwesi Arthur, Darko Vibes & Kelvyn Boy; Record of the Year – Akwaboah – Hye Me Bo; Songwriter of the Year – King Promise – CCTV; Producer of the Year – Kuami Eugene; Sound Engineer of The Year – Francis Osei with Akwaboah’s ‘Hye Me Bo; Male Vocalist of the Year – KiDi – on ‘Thunder’; Female Vocalist of the Year – Efya; African Artiste of the Year – Burna Boy; Rapper of The Year – Medikal.
Best African Collaboration Akwaaba – Guilty Beatz Ft Mr Eazi, Pappy Kojo & Patapaa; Group of the Year – Bethel Revival Choir; New Artiste of The Year – Wendy Shay; Album of The Year – Rockstar – Kuami Eugene; Artiste of The Decade – Sarkodie.
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Ghana’s abandoned Monkey Hill Reserve under threat
It is touted as the only rainforest situated in the center of a city in the entire West Africa but this little unique jungle in the capital of Ghana’s oil-rich Western Region which has been abandoned, faces an existential threat
Investigations show that despite its uniqueness, the Monkey Hill Forest Reserve, a 12.6 hectare rainforest populated with monkeys, in the heart of Takoradi, has been neglected by the country’s forest and tourism promoters and it is deteriorating.
While the forest has not been developed into a tourist site to fetch the state revenue, it continues to grapple with survival threats including poaching of the animals, encroachment and deplorable sanitary conditions.
A research conducted as far back as 2004 by a Takoradi-based socio-environmental Civil Society Organization, Friends of the Nation (FoN), on the forest’s flora and fauna species, recommended the urgent protection of the animals and plants in the forest while entreating government to develop the place into an ecotourism site.
In the said research, three species of monkeys were identified in the forest- the Spot-nosed Monkey, Mona Monkey and the Olive Colobus Monkey, which is a globally threatened species.
In all, the research identified seven species of large mammals, 58 species of birds and 112 species of plants.
However, investigations have found that this forest has been deteriorating at a fast pace over the years as some of the residents of Takoradi poach the inhabited animals.
Kwame Johnson, a resident of Takoradi, who boasts of having skills in monkey-trapping, told this reporter that he has trapped several monkeys in the forest at a fee for his clients.
“I use wire-cage and banana to trap them. It’s quite simple but only few people know how to use this method,” he said.
Steven Cudjoe, another resident, said he and his friends often visit the forest on weekends to hunt squirrels.
“We often go home with a catch. On a good day, it could be two or more,” he said.
Checks at the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission (FC) to ascertain how the state protects these animals revealed that the Forestry Commission was yet to earmark the place as a Wildlife Protected Area.
“As a result, we’re unable to dispatch Resource Guards to this forest to protect the animals. We’re however trying hard to convince the commission to assist us in this regard,”said Tracy Boadi, a Wildlife Officer in-charge of Tourism at the Wildlife Division in Takoradi.
She said the Monkey Hill Forest Reserve has a huge tourism potential but her outfit was under resourced to leverage on the potential.
However, poaching of the animals is not the only threat to the Monkey Hill Forest. The fast expansion of the Takoradi city is also gradually eating into the forest.
When this reporter visited the place, residential structures and shops are seen to be fast developing into the perimeter of the forest especially, on its southern part that leads to New Takoradi, a neighbouring community.
Vegetation on the fringes of the forest have eroded badly due to human activities.
Portions of the base of the forest have also been turned into a refuse dump, populated with plastics and other solid waste.
The Forest Services Division of the FC which is responsible for keeping the forest in good shape has not been doing much.
The Takoradi District Manager of the Forest Services Division, Daniel Ofosu, said the Division has no economic interest in the Monkey Hill Forest because the trees were not being cut for sale.
As a result, no Forest Guard has been deployed to protect the forest but his outfit has been ensuring that the place continues to exist, he said.
“Last year, we planted some trees there and we do public education on encroachment,” he said.
John Laste, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA), when contacted, could not mention specific steps the STMA hsd taken to keep the forest clean and prevent it from encroachers.
He however said the place was open to investors who would want to develop it into an ecotourism site.
“It’s in our 2018-2021 Medium-term Development Plan as one of the areas investors can take up and develop into an ecotourism site,” he said.
The Western Regional Director of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), George Nkrumah Ansere, said his outfit plans to promote the place to the investor community but first, the GTA, STMA and the FC would have to come together and agree on the right of ownership of the forest.
“It’s something we’re already working on and very soon it will be sorted out,” he said, adding that, the GTA would then allot a portion of its Tourism Development Fund to develop and properly package the ecotourism plan of the place to attract investors.
Since it conducted the research on the forest a decade-and-half ago, FoN has not been able to initiate any new move in protecting the forest but the organization says the findings of its research still remain relevant.
“We’ve been able to let the public know the number of animals and plants in there. Now, it behoves on the STMA to take the lead and get other stakeholders on board to develop a management plan for the place. For us, we’re open for collaboration,” said Theophilus Boachie-Yiadom, Research Coordinator at FoN.
Currently, the middle of the forest is occupied by an old one-storey building owned by Ghana Telecom (Vodafone), some residential quarters and a private restaurant. Shops are creeping in. Solid wastes have flooded parts of it. And the devastation continues.
By Marlvin-James Dadzie
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