Opuni did not influence letters to PPA on buying fertilizer – Former CFO

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Former Ghana Cocoa Board Finance Director Charles Kwao Tetteh Dodoo told the Accra High Court that Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni did not influence the content of the procurement unit’s letters to the Public procurement authority (PPA) on purchased fertilizers.

Charles Kwao Tetteh Dodoo, who is the first defense witness for the former COCOBOD chief executive, said he has reviewed all draft letters from the supply unit that were to be sent to the PPA for approval. on the fertile ones before the CEO waits for his signature, before they’ve been shipped.

His testimony contradicts what state witnesses had told earlier in court in the case involving Dr Opuni and Seidu Agongo.

When the lawyer asked him for his response to the accusation that Dr Opuni had influenced the procurement process when he wrote “Exhibit Q,” which was a letter dated February 25, 2014 to the PPA requesting the Approval of a single source of fertilizer for the Cocoa Hi-Tech program in 2013/2014, the witness said that was not correct.

The witness stated that Exhibit “Q” was drafted by the purchasing manager and on the distribution list of Exhibit “Q”, the purchasing manager is the last on the list and, towards the top, is the manager. of the audit, the finance director and the three deputy directors general.

He added that “the letter (Exhibit Q) was in response to a PPA request and the letter in its response referred to a meeting between the PPA Board of Directors and COCOBOD management that took place in 2008.

“The results of the discussions could and are with the Cocobod procurement unit. The letter referred to fertilizers, not specifically those that Cocobod buys through a single source and at the correct price. And so this letter couldn’t come from the CEO. He (Opuni) has no idea what happened in 2008, therefore, this letter cannot come from the CEO who was not in office in 2008 and as I indicated, the mailing list indicates whoever originated the letter, ”the president told the court. .

He explained that “letters leaving COCOBOD must be signed by the general manager even if he does not write them”.

Fertilizer Newsletters

Continuing his chief testimony as the first defense witness, Mr. Dodoo told the court that the purchasing unit wrote to a number of institutions asking for information on fertilizers.

In presenting matters to the court, the witness, “Exhibit 81”, referred to Sidalco’s response in a letter he received from COCOBOD on February 25, 2014.

He told the court that a response from Louis Breyfus in “room 82” was received on February 26, 2014.

Again, he said, for “Exhibit 83,” which was a response from Wienco was in a letter dated February 26, 2014.

For Chemico’s response in “Exhibit 84” he said it was received on February 27, 2014, while “Exhibit 85” – Sidalco, he said, although the date of receipt of the letter was unclear, this letter was dated February 25, 2014.

These exhibits, he told the court, “they all provide information that the procurement unit will use in preparing the …. rewards and they all relate to different types of fertilizer.”

Opuni does not influence letters from the supply unit

Letter projects

He again told the court that draft letters from the supply unit are reviewed by him before they are placed on COCOBOD headers which he sent to the CEO to sign beforehand. that they are then dispatched.

The former CFO, while responding to a request from his successor Peter Osei Amoako, a (prosecution witness) cross-examination that the purchasing unit writes only draft letters and not the last to be signed by the general manager, the witness said until he got out of the system in 2017, this was not the practice.

“What happened under my supervision and before I took over was that the head of the procurement unit in this case sent me a draft. I have personally been taken to general management on several occasions.

“I actually get up and he has signed and then I collect the letters and hand them over to the purchasing unit for shipping.

“Monsignor, this can happen when letters need to be sent quickly, but the manager cannot force access to the CEO’s office. So I choose the files for the number of letters to sign and go to his secretariat and he is informed that the finance manager is in the secretariat and wanted to see him with letters to sign and I take them out and go back to my office and I am calling the purchasing unit to come and collect their letters, ”Mr. Dodoo told the court.

Lithovit liquid fertilizer

Referring to Exhibit “BB,” which is a letter dated October 16, 2016, regarding Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer, he said: “This is a letter from Cocobod to PPA requesting approval of a unique source of Lithovit liquid fertilizer from Agricult limited. “

He told the court that “This letter, exhibit ‘BB’, was written by the purchasing unit and verified by myself and signed by the general manager.”

When asked if it was practical to write to PPA for single source fertilizer approval during the 2015/2016 cocoa season, the witness explained.

“In my previous submissions I referred to some changes that were made for procurement for 2014/15 and the change was that, the CODAPEC HI-TECH unit which until then reported directly to the Deputy General Manager, N & QC was placed under the directing executive of the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED).

He said: “This change in their reporting line when CODAPEC HI-TECH requests quotes responses from suppliers goes to the CEO’s office. Responses will be forwarded to the direct CHED executive who will forward them to the procurement unit for the appropriate letters to be generated from there i.e. for approvals from PPA and other relevant bodies. .

Dr Opuni will call 8 witnesses

Lawyers for Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, the former Managing Director of Ghana COCOBOD, have informed the Accra High Court of their intention to call eight witnesses to defend their client.

Already, the first defense witness (DW1) Charles Kwao Tetteh Dodoo, former finance director at COCOBOD is in the witness box as Dr Opuni’s first witness.

In court on Thursday, December 9, 2021, the presiding judge, Judge Clemence Honyenuga, asked Dr Opuni’s lead counsel, lawyer Samuel Codjoe, how many witnesses they intended to call.

Attorney Codjoe said in his response: “We intend to call eight witnesses”, adding that “We also intend to call two of the eight”.

When asked if he would need the help of the court, lawyer Codjoe replied in the affirmative, stating: “We will need the help of the court for a particular witness who is having problems. health and, therefore, we will pray if his testimony will be taken by video link.

According to the lawyer, this witness “sometimes comes to Accra for medical examinations, so I spoke to him last week and he said to me that he would see how he could best help”.

The director of the prosecution, Ms. Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa in responding to the request said that the prosecution will not oppose it.

“In this time we live, the use of technology in the judgment or adjudication of cases is common and the prosecution has used or relied on witnesses who lived out of jurisdiction in a number of jurisdictions. his business, ”the DPP said.

According to her, “once the proper arrangements have been made, it can be done.”

Justice Honyenuga, a Supreme Court judge sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, said “the request to have the witness with a health problem go through video link is in order.”

“The testimony of the witness referred to will be taken after the testimony of DW1 (the first defense witness),” the court said.

The court subsequently ordered that “the clerk of this court shall take note of this and make the necessary arrangements with the ICT department of the judicial service”.

The case was adjourned to December 13, 2021 for further action.

Charges

Dr Opuni, Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited are on trial on 27 counts of allegedly causing financial loss to the state, defrauding under false pretenses, conspiracy to commit a crime, aiding and abetting crime, waiting money, bribery of public officials and breaking the law. APP Law.

Together, they are accused of causing a financial loss of more than GH ¢ 217 million to the state through the sale and purchase of the controversial liquid fertilizer Lithovit, which the prosecution claims has never been tested.

They all pleaded not guilty and were released on bail.


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