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Dr Opuni requested 700,000 litres of fertilizer from Agricult – Witness




Dr. Stephen Opuni

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.

Source: GNA

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Go for Ghana Card – Volta NDC to supporters




Mr James Gunu, the Volta Regional Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has urged Ghanaians, especially supporters of the Party to fully participate in the Ghana Card registration exercise, which commenced in the region on Monday, July 22.

He said, “the Volta Region NDC wishes to encourage all and sundry, including party faithfuls, to participate in the ongoing Ghana card registration exercise. Ghana card is not for any political party, it is for all of us, so everyone must take part, even though the exercise was not given enough days”.

Mr. Gunu was addressing supporters of the party at a “revival rally” on the theme, “mobilizing all available resources for victory 2020”, on Sunday at Agbozume, in the Ketu South constituency of the Volta Region.

He asked followers of the NDC to encourage their households to register and ignore any acts of “intimidation” from opposition parties.

Mr Gunu called for unity in the Party ahead of the Parliamentary Primaries and urged members to accept outcomes of vetting of aspirants and elections of parliamentary candidates.

Mr. Bright Kumordzi, Ketu South Constituency Chairman of the NDC, appealed to all delegates to choose the best candidate for the parliamentary seat and commended aspirants in the Constituency for working together in peace.

The fund raising rally brought together some branch executives, former and present constituency executives as well as all the parliamentary aspirants in the constituency, to at mobilize resources towards attaining the 2020 agenda of the party.

Source: GNA

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Government says GH¢3b road projects to start nationwide




Kojo Oppong Nkrumah – Minister of Information

Government has announced plans to start road infrastructural development in the second half of the year, amounting to GH¢3 billion.

Road projects are expected to see a major boost nationwide upon the resumption of the cocoa roads projects.

It will be recalled that cocoa road projects were discontinued for audit and re-scoping and proper alignment of funds to execute them.

Mr. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the Information Minister, announced this at a media briefing in Accra.

He said upon completion of the audit exercise, some road projects have been terminated and others re-scoped, while others have been handed over to the proper agencies such as Highways and Urban Roads to execute.

He said funding is being made available for the commencement of those projects, with the assurance that contractors would be paid for work done.

He said more than three billion Ghana cedis of cocoa roads are set to commence under the new programme in cocoa growing areas across the country.

Other road projects funded through the Central Government budget and road fund are expected to pick up during the year, he added.

He said the LEKMA roads and others have already been given out on contract and contractors are already mobilising to site.

Source: GNA

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Group to check misuse of drugs in Sabon Zongo formed




Zongo  Against Drug (ZAD), a civic pressure group, has been formed at Sabon Zongo in the Ablekuma Central Municipality, to check misuse of drugs by the youth in the area.

It also aims at championing the cause of sensitising the youth about the dangers of drugs, its consequences and help them to abstain from it.

Mr. Abdul Rahim Salifu Ango, Chairman of the group and a Clinical Psychologist at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, told the Ghana News Agency that, the group would create awareness among the muslim youth in Accra, on avoiding negative practices in society and to uphold high moral principles.

ZAD, he said, is a non-partisan group, whose membership cuts across the political divide, adding that, it comprises opinion leaders of the community and some chiefs too.

He said it seeks to stimulate action among policy makers and the public to recognise and take pragmatic measures to discourage the youth on deviant and immoral acts.

Mr. Salifu Ango said Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools presented more opportunities for the muslim youth and there is the need to prepare themselves to play meaningful roles in the country.

He said ZAD intends to work in partnership with private and public sector institutions as well as international Non-Governmental Organisations(NGOs) committed to the same goals.

He expressed the hope that the media would continue to play its critical role of informing and educating the public about the concerns of ZAD.

Source: GNA

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