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A-G’s witness confesses to his US$268 million fertilizer deal in 2011
A witness of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Gloria Akuffo, has confessed to his deep involvement in the purchase of over US$268 million fertilizer for the 2011/12 cocoa season through single-source; something the Justice Minister, had claimed was alien to the Ghana Cocoa Board until the emergence of Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, years later.
However, notwithstanding, the whopping US$268 million blown on the fertilizers by Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah and his colleagues at the time, the yield for that cocoa season rather fall. This he explained was because the cocoa trees were tired.
Dr. Adu-Ampomah, said he and others, including the then Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Anthony Fofie, had anticipated that the cocoa trees were going to be tired, hence bought more fertilizers at the outrageous amount under soul-sourcing.
In a bid to meet its own target of one million metric tonnes, COCOBOD applied and got approval from the Public Procurement Authority to single source the purchase of fertilizers from three companies in three tranches – February, June and November – in 2011 at the tune of US$264,495,688.53.
In November, the same year, COCOBOD again secured approval for additional US$3,551,301.50 worth of fertilizer single sourced from a different company bringing the total expenses made on fertilisers for 2011 meant for the 2011/12 cocoa season to US$268,046, 990.03.
But after sinking the whopping amount into cocoa production, COCOBOD missed its target. It was able to achieve a paltry 879,343 tonnes for the 2011/12 cocoa season, prosecution witness Dr. Adu-Ampomah admitted to these figures during cross-examining on last Tuesday.
The companies involved were Chemico Ghana Limited, which supplied US$87,916,000.00 worth of Cocofeed Granular fertiliser; Sidalco Ghana Limited, which supplied US$89,993,335.62 worth of Foliar Sidalco K-Rich and Foliar Sidalco Balanced fertilisers; Wienco Ghana Limited, which supplied US$86,586,352.91 worth of AsaaseWura Granular fertilizer; and Yara Limited supplied US$3,551,301.50 worth of Nitrabor fertiliser.
The revelation is coming at the back of the prosecution witness’ evidence in chief led by a Chief Attorney,Evelyn D. Keelson, where he categorically stated that the practice at COCOBOD was that fertilisers are only purchased through competitive tender where the products are advertised in the dailies. It has however turned out in court that his claim was not true.
Ironically, Dr. Adu-Ampomah is a prosecution witness testifying against former COCOBOD chief executive, Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman, Seidu Agongo, who are standing trial at the Accra High Court, where Dr. Opuni among other charges has been accused of engaging in single source during his term in office between November 2013 and January 2017.
Interestingly, counsel for Dr. Opuni, who is the first accused, Samuel Cudjoe has been able to produce copious documents from COCOBOD contradicting the claims of the witness, getting Dr. Adu-Ampomah to go back on his words to virtually doused the charges of sole source leveled against the accused.
In the previous sitting, Dr. Adu-Ampomah is on record admitting that he personally wrote letters to PPA and secured approval to single source the purchase of these fertilizers in question. He also conceded being copied in several correspondences with PPA and requests granted to single source fertilisers during his first term at COCOBOD as Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control.
Interestingly, cocoa production further went down to 835, 466 metric tonnes for the 2012/13 from 879,343 tonnes recorded in the previous year although substantial quantity of fertilisers were used in these seasons.
There was a near drama in court when Dr. Adu-Ampomah, who is currently a special advisor to the Agric Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, suggested to the court that the decline in yield was as a result of tired cocoa trees.
He explained that because in the 2010/11 cocoa season production was high, it was expected that yield will dip in the subsequent years.
The witness was, however, confronted with evidence of yield shooting up to 896,221 metric tonnes in the 2013/14 cocoa season during Dr. Opuni’s first year in office as COCOBOD Chief Executive.