By Bernice Bessey
Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, 3rd prosecution witness (PW3), in the trial of Dr Stephen Opuni and others, yesterday found it really difficult to mention the list of American and Dutch Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) that he claimed contracted him to do a job on their behalf to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers.
Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni is the immediate past Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).
Dr Ampomah, who is currently the Special Advisor on Cocoa Affairs to the Minister for Agriculture, as a result, came under heavy pressure from the defence, then mentioned Solidaridad as the only Dutch NGO that sought for his services to undertake the livelihood improvement programme on its behalf for the cocoa farmers.
Samuel Cudjoe, counsel for first accused (A1), Dr Stephen Opuni, dis-satisfied with the answer, further pressed him to cough another NGO by the name Rainfall Alliance, that he could not readily substantiate whether it is an American NGO or not.
However, Dr Adu-Ampomah explained to the Accra High Court, presided over by Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Clemence Honyenuga, while being cross-examined, that the American NGOs he talked about while giving his statement before the court, were linked to the US Department of Agriculture, and they were helping local Ghanaian companies to help local farmers improve their livelihoods.
He continued that when the local companies put up a proposal to source for funds or support and manage to find a funding agency, they refer their proposal to him, after which he makes recommendations, together with a team, for sponsorship.
To make himself clear, Dr Adu-Ampomah added that he was unable to state the names of the NGOs because he was dealing with several agencies, and as a result, “I wouldn’t know, because I worked with so many of them.”
Nevertheless, Mr Cudjoe, still not convinced with PW3’s answer, stated: “I take it that you don’t know the names of the American NGOs you were working for?”
The following is how the defence counsel grilled Dr Adu-Ampomah:
- You have informed this court that you were working for some American and Dutch NGOs.
- Yes my lord.
- Do you still maintain that?
- Yes my lord.
- Can you please give us the names of the American and Dutch NGOs?
- The Dutch NGO is Solidaridad.
- And what is the name of the American NGO you were working with?
- These American NGOs were linked to the US Department of Agriculture, and they were helping local Ghanaian companies to help local farmers improve their livelihoods.
- Can you give me the names of the American NGOs?
- The description is that these local companies would put up a proposal sourcing for funds to support. And when they find a funding agency, their proposal is referred to me to review their proposal and recommend, together with a team, for sponsorship. And one of such companies, which was being funded through this means, is ‘Cocoa Abrabɔpa’ and some licensed buying companies.
- So Dr Adu-Ampomah, I take it that you don’t know the names of the American NGOs you were working for?
- When I was making my statement, I said because they are several agencies, I wouldn’t know, because I worked with so many of them.
- So you want us to understand that with the Dutch NGO, you know the name, that is Solidaridad, but with the American NGOs, you cannot mention their names, or you don’t know their names?
- It is not so. When I said the NGOs, I was talking about mainly the Dutch ones, and because the funds were coming from various sources, that is why I said NGOs from Dutch and America, because some of the funds were coming from America.
- So it is true, isn’t it, that, as you sit here, you cannot tell us a single name of your employers, i.e. the American NGOs?
- As I said, there were funding agencies and NGOs that I was working with. So, in my first statement that I was working with American NGOs and Dutch NGOs was bulking the financiers and the NGOs, and calling them American and Dutch NGOs, that bulking the financiers and NGOs together. That’s what I meant, because it is a process. The financiers will channel their money through the NGOs.
- Dr Adu-Ampomah, as you sit here, you are a very intelligent man. Isn’t it?
- Yes, my lord.
- What is the meaning of NGO?
- Non Governmental Organisation.
- Dr Adu-Ampomah, I believe you know what NGOs do because you worked for them?
- Yes, my lord.
- And, you know all NGOs are corporate bodies with capacities as companies?
- Yes, my lord.
- Definitely, you know all the NGOs have names, because they have capacities?
- I am putting it to you that if, indeed, you worked for Dutch and American NGOs, you would definitely have known all their names?
- What I am saying is that there are several of them. I have mentioned one, and if you like, I can mention more. One of them is Rainfall Alliance.
- Is it American or a Dutch NGO?
- I can’t tell you off hand.
- You told this court that the NGOs employed you to work on the effects of the livelihood of cocoa farmers in cocoa growing areas?
- To advise them on how to improve on the livelihood of cocoa farmers.
- So you will agree with me that licensed buying companies are not farmers. Isn’t it?
- Yes, they are not farmers, but the scheme they were running was that in Ghana we need to improve on the livelihood of cocoa farmers, and you need to link them to the licensed buying companies.
- Dr. Adu-Ampomah, when were you first employed to work for these Dutch and American NGOs?
- It started somewhere in 2014 when I was in retirement.
- You mentioned Cocoa Abrabɔ Pa.
- You said you cannot remember the month you started working for these NGOs?
- How long did you work for these NGOs?
- It was sporadic, from 2014 to 2016.
- I want a confirmation of the dates again, i.e., that you are stating that you worked for these companies from 2014 to 2016?
- How many times between 2014 and 2016 did you attend meetings at COCOBOD for and on behalf of these NGOs?
- Many times, but I can’t give a specific number.
- Did you report to these NGOs about the meetings you had with COCOBOD. since you were attending these meetings on their behalf?
- Some of the meetings were fact-finding to help me advice. Those that needed reporting back were done.
- Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, since you are very certain that you attended meetings for and on behalf of these NGOs, between 2014 and 2016, at COCOBOD, you definitely would know the principal people at COCOBOD?
- Sometimes, I could meet the Deputy Chief Executive of A&QC, Dr Francis Oppong; sometimes I could meet the Director of CHED…
- At least you’ve been in the cocoa industry for a long time, as long as 1977, when you were first employed at CRIG.
- So, definitely, you know the names of the fertiliser companies and their subsidiaries?
- No, I wouldn’t know all.
- But you will definitely know some?
- You dealt with Cocoa Abrabɔpa, as you just informed the court this morning. at your NGO meetings between 2014 and 2016?
- I said Abrabɔpa was one of the groups I was dealing with. and it does not necessarily mean that the meetings I was attending at COCOBOD was necessarily with them.
- You know who owns Cocoa Abrabɔpa?
- It’s a group of farmers’ organisations, so nobody owns them.
- I am putting it to you that it is never true that you ever had any meeting with Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni at COCOBOD?
- I never said I had meetings with Dr Stephen Opuni. I said anytime I was attending meetings there, I used to go to greet him after the meeting, not at the meeting.
- I am further putting it to you that the first time you ever saw Dr Stephen Opuni, and had any discussion or interaction with him, was in 2016 at the wedding of Dr Oppong’s daughter?
- No my lord. I can’t give you a specific time, but between 2009 and 2013 when I was Deputy Chief Executive A&QC; when he presented a request for funding of a project prepared by the Food and Drugs Board, of which at that time he was the boss, and the GSA and EPA to test for aflatoxin in cocoa, when I met him in my boss’ office.
- In fact, the FDA at the time of Dr Opuni was self-funding and never asked for any funding whatsoever from COCOBOD.
- My lord, they did put in application.
- And, in fact, you gave this evidence of meeting Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni in court to create the impression that you were on good terms or had nothing against him?
- No my lord. I quite remember that I once went to his office after a meeting at COCOBOD and met the then Chairman of COCOBOD in his office. And we even had a chat in front of his office.
- I believe you know the name of the then Chairman of COCOBOD. Can you mention his name?
- Ohene Agyekum.
- I am putting it to you that you never had any meeting with Dr Ohene Agyekum, and or Dr Kwabena Opuni in the offices of COCOBOD?
- My lord, I met them.
- When did you retire, and by that I mean in which year did you retire from COCOBOD, prior to your second coming?
- September 30, 2013.
- It is true that after you retired from COCOBOD you were given a on-year contract?
- So then you retired in 2012. Isn’t it?
- I will take it that after you retired, that is when you started working for the Dutch and American NGOs.
- That was after 2013.
The case was adjourned to May 28, 2019.