I did not sole source for only Lithrovit -Opuni
Former Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCBOD), Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni says in 2013/2014, 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 cocoa seasons, the Board under his supervision did not write to the Office of the President, singling out Agricult Ghana Limited to supply Lithovit Liquid fertiliser on the basis of sole sourcing.
This, he says, was contrary to the testimony by COCOBOD’s Director of Finance, Peter Osei Amoako that, the procurement starts with a letter emanating from the Chief Executive to Cabinet, through the Ministry of Finance to procure Lithovit.
According to him, COCOBOD applied to the Presidency to procure fertiliser for the cocoa season years mentioned from SIDALCO, Chemico and other companies.
Mr Osei Amoako, who is the state’s sixth Prosecution Witness (PW6), at the Accra High Court Division Criminal One, presided over by Justice Honyenuga yesterday, answered in the affirmative that if there are documents to that effect, then he believes so.
Legal Counsel of Dr Opuni, Samuel Cudjoe, while cross-examining Mr Amoako, said far from what PW6 had wanted the court to believe that quantities and types of fertilisers are determined and approved by the Chief Executive, it is the Procurement Department that prepares such letters and then are vetted by the Legal Department.
In a question, he said: “Mr Osei Amoako, you are aware that during periods that these contracts were awarded to Agricult in 2014, 2015 and 2016, identical contracts were entered into between COCOBOD and SIDAC, Chemico and other companies, for the supply of fertilisers,” which the witness answered he believes so.
This compelled Mr Cudjoe to confront him with the question that: “In fact, Mr Osei Amoako, in your evidence in chief to this court, you did not mention the fact that this letter was for all fertilisers, isn’t it, but only for Lithovit?” but the PW6 responded, “My lord, the document is here.”
The lawyer further added that a letter dated 11/0 2/2014, is a letter from the Office of the President to COCOBOD was also copied to the Chief Executive’s three deputies, the Director of Finance, CODAPEC and HITEC and procurement unit mangers, making the witness claim that it is only the Chief Executive that have sole responsibility to determine and approve quantities and types of fertilisers in factual statement.
Me Cudjoe added that even the letter for purchases are prepared by the Procurement Unit, which is now a Department, for it to be vetted by the legal Department, then to the Entity Tender Committee before it is sent to the Chief Executive for approval.
According to the defence counsel: “And, in fact although the letter was signed by Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, it was written by Procurement for him, hence even though Procurement Unit at that time reported to the Director of Finance, who also report to the deputy Chief Executive Finance and Administration was copied?”
The witness responded that “My lord, as he said, I do not have anything to show here that it was written by Procurement. My lord, if that is what it is, then it is the draft that would go to the Chief Executive for confirmation. My lord, after the confirmation and approval, the Chief Executive will sign. My lord, the letter itself was referenced by the Chief Executive.
Excerpts of questions (Q) and answers (A):
Q. And, in fact, as you have rightly stated, Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) certificates are supposed to be for one year, that is from 1st January to end of the year?
A. My lord, the certificate is issued by CRIG and it is issued within the period to the last of the year.
Q. I believe even you, whom the procurement department was under in July 19, 2017, would assume that all attachments to the contract prepared by the Procurement Unit and vetted by the Legal Department will be proper, isn’t it?
Q. I believe even as the immediate boss of the unit on the July 19, 2017, when you witnessed a contract for the supply of 200, 000 liquid Greenok Organic Folia Fertiliser, you assumed that the CRIG certificate attached to the contract was proper, isn’t it?
A. Yes my lord.
Q. Can you have a look at the CRIG certificate attached to the document?
Q. When was the CRIG certificate issued?
A. My lord, December 1, 2016.
Q. And] when was the validity of the certificate on the face of it?
A. My lord, the certificate is valid until December 2017.
Q. That you will agree that all CRIG certificates are supposed to be valid for the year span, which the certificates are issued?
A. My lord, the certificate is valid for one year and looking at the certificate here, it is valid for one year.
Q. In fact, I am putting it to you that all the witnesses from CRIG, PW1 and PW2 together with PW3 have all stated that CRIG certificates are only valid within the year they have been issued?
A. My lord, the certificate I am holding is valid for one year.
Q. PW1, that is Dr Franklin Amoah was the Executive Director of CRIG, PW2 that is Dr Alfred Author, who is at CRIG and PW3, Dr Adu Ampomah, a two time Deputy Chief Executive Agronomy and Quality Control, who have all stated that a certificate issued in any year expires in December 31st of that year?
A. My Lord, I have looked at the certificate, the certificate was issued on 31st December and it was signed by Dr J.G. Anim Kwarpong, who was appointed by Stephen Kwabena Opuni. My Lord, Dr Anim Kwarpong is still in employment as Director of .. .and he can be called to speak to the certificates. For the procurement unit, this certificate was valid at the time of signing the contract on December 19, 2017.
Q. So have a look at exhibit 52. This is a contract you also witnessed. I believe just like exhibit 53, you will have assumed that the procurement unit, which referred to the contract and, which was vetted by Legal Department would have comply with all the requirements of the contract?
Q. Do you have a CRIG certificate attached?
A. My Lord, I do not have CRIG certificate attached to this document. My lord, I believe the certificate is …
Q. Definitely, your Audit Department, together with the user department, namely CODAPEC/ HITEC will definitely ensure that at the time of delivery of the fertilisers, it will be fit for use, isn’t it?
A. My lord, audit and inspection teams will make sure the fertiliser has not expired
Q. Mr Osei Amoako, when letters are written for negotiations by procurement for price quotations, the letters are written in bulk to all companies, who are to supply fertilisers, isn’t it?
A. My lord, letters for applications are written to companies whose fertilisers have been tested by CRIG for a minimum two year period to be submitted for quotations.
Q. When the letters are written, the letters request for quotations for specified quantity, isn’t it?
A. My Lord, I have to abreast myself but I believe that is true.
Q. After the Procurement Unit and the suppliers have agreed on the price and quantity, COCOBOD will write to the Public Procurement Authority for permission to sole source the fertilisers at specified prices, isn’t it?
A. That is not the case. My lord the quantities are determined by the Chief Executive because the Head of Procurement, which is the Head of Finance cannot force COCOBOD to enter into any contract or approval for anything more than GH¢5,000.
The deputy Chief Executive cannot also force COCOCBOD to enter into contract or approve anything more than GH¢10, 000.
Q. And in fact, the letter to the PPA, though signed by the Chief Executive, is prepared by procurement for the signature of the Chief Executive.
A. No, the letter prepared by procurement will first be in a draft state for the attention of the Chief Executive.
Case adjourned to November 27, 2020.