A star witness of the Attorney General, Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah shocked the court on Wednesday when he questioned the authenticity of an exhibit tendered in evidence by the state.
Prosecution had tendered in a product the Attorney General said was the lithovit fertilizer that was powder in nature.
Dr. Alfred Arthur, the second prosecution witness through whom the product was tendered in evidence on October 29, 2018, strongly argued in court that the sample admitted into evidence was the sample brought to him from COCOBOD to work on in 2013.
The evidence was meant to prove that lithovit was not liquid in the ongoing state’s case against former CEO of COCOBOD, Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo.
Dr. Adu-Ampomah who is a former deputy CEO at COCOBOD and advisor to the Minister of Agriculture was the person at COCOBOD who first received the product and wrote to CRIG to test.
His letter to CRIG which is also in evidence was addressed to and received by the then Executive Director, Dr. Franklin Manu Amoah who had also told the court in his evidence-in-chief that the exhibit was the sample he received for testing.
Prior to that, he had testified before a committee set up by government and chaired by Dr. Adu-Ampomah in 2017 that the sample weighed 10kilos.
Interestingly, when Dr. Adu-Ampomah was shown this same exhibit in court under cross examination by Samuel Cudjoe, counsel for Dr. Opuni, he outrightly rejected the exhibit.
He told the High Court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenuga that the exhibit is not the lithovit fertilizer that he asked CRIG to test.
Prosecution has substantially relied on the exhibit as it seeks to prove to the court that the lithovit fertilizer purchased by COCOBOD as approved by the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) was substandard.
When lawyer Cudjoe showed Dr. Adu-Ampomah the exhibit and told him it weighs less than 1 kilo contrary to the testimony of Dr. Amoah before the committee chaired by him that it was 10 kilos, he agreed with the counsel.
The witness suggested that the exhibit by the Attorney General which is supposed to be a prove that lithovit fertilizer was powder is questionable.
“My Lord I don’t know where this is coming from,” Dr Adu told the court.
He added, “this is not what came in 2013; I don’t know whether this is the sample that you are showing to me”.
The committee that was chaired by Dr. Adu-Ampomah was set up in 2017 when a new government was formed, to investigate some anomalies at COCOBOD. It was based on the committee’s work that the state decided to prosecute Dr Opuni, Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited accused of causing financial loss to state in the purchase of lithovit fertilizer between 2014 and 2016.
Persons that appeared before the committee included three scientists at CRIG – Dugbatsey , Dr. Alfred Arthur and Mr. A.A. Afrifa who worked on lithovit. Both Mr. Afrifa who was the head of soil science division of CRIG and Dugbatsey told the committee that lithovit fertilizer they worked on was liquid.
But when Samuel Cudjoe confronted the witness with the fact, Dr. Adu-Ampomah accused Mr. Afrifa of lying about the nature of the product.
“He (Afrifa) said it but there was no document to prove that. As I said the committee find Mr. Afrifa’s answer to be untruthful”.
Unscientific and erred
Dr. Adu-Ampomah was also shown an exhibit, which is the cover letter Dr. F. M. Amoah, the then Executive Director signed in January 2014, while forwarding the Scientific Report recommending that based on scientific evidence, Lithovit Foliar Fertiliser is suitable for use on mature cocoa.
But the witness said that conclusion by Dr. Amoah was “unscientific”, arguing that it was based on other products.
So when the lawyer asked the witness if Dr. Amoah erred when he signed the CRIG letter that it can be used on mature cocoa, he responded in affirmative.
“Yes he erred, and at the committee we questioned him and he said he didn’t realize the mistake,” Dr. Adu-Ampomah told the court, “because he was not a soil scientist”.
Below are excerpts of Wednesday’s cross-examination by Samuel Cudjoe:
Q. Dr Adu Ampomah, in your committee report, Mr Dugbatsey informed you that at the time he was employed in November 2013, the nursery work on lithovit had been completed. Isn’t it
A. No he said the work was ongoing and when he was employed, he was sent to the nursery and showed where the experiment was ongoing.
Q. In fact, he states specifically that he played no role and that work had already been done before he joined CRIG on November 4, 2013
A. When he said it has been done, it doesn’t mean it was completed. He was a young scientist so he wouldn’t know because he was just being shown so he could not know if the work was completed.
Q. In fact his answer is consistent with your own testimony you gave in this court that the nursery work was completed in three months.
A. No my lord the report stated that the work was done on the young seedlings for three months. As to when it started, it was not stated.
Q. Dr I am putting it to you that by the evidence of Dugbatsey and also before the committee, the three months ended before Dugbatsey was employed on November 2013.
A. No my lord
Q. Did the committee in its report find that Dugbatsey lied before it with regards to when work was completed?
A. No my lord
Q. In fact, Dugbatsey states that when he was employed in November, work had been completed and that he only reviews the report and therefore did not play in a role in doing the work
A. Yes and as I have previously stated, the “done” here does not mean the work was completed. It wasn’t. My understanding of it has been done was that it was ongoing.