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Opuni did not author price quotation letter to Agricult -Witness

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The former Director of Finance of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Charles Kwao Dodoo, has testified that the former Chief Executive (CE) of the Board, Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, did not write letters to Agricult Ghana Limited for the purchase of Lithovit Folar Fertiliser.
According to him, letters to procure fertilisers and agrochemicals emanate from the Procurement Unit, with inputs from the CODAPEC/Hi-Tech Unit of COCOBOD.
Being led by Samuel Codjoe, defence counsel for Dr Opuni, who is facing some 27 counts with two other in a cocoa trial, to give his evidence-in-chief, Mr Dodoo said the former CE only signed letters prepared by the Procurement Unit.
The former COCOBOD Finance Director was giving evidence in support of Dr Opuni, who had opened his defence at the court, presided over by Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, yesterday.
He said it was not correct that the seventh prosecution witness (PW7), Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Prempeh Mercer, who is the investigator in the case, would claim that Dr Opuni wrote the letter to Agricult for quotation and supply of Lithovit Fertiliser.
The following is the how the witness was led by the defence counsel:
Q. Mr Dodoo can you have a look at exhibit N, it is a letter dated 19/2/2014?
A. Yes.
Q. Have you seen this letter before?
A. Yes.
Q. Who wrote this letter?
A. This letter was written by the Procurement Unit.
Q. And what does this letter concerned?
A. This letter was addressed to the ECO of PPA. It was seeking the approval to sole source a number of fertilisers. We have Aseese Wora Fertiliser coming from Wienco Ghana Limited. We have Cocoa Master coming from Louis Breyfus. We also have Cocoa Feed that is coming from Chemico Limited. The next is Sidalco 10:10:10 coming from Sidalco. The next is the Sidalco 6:0:30, which is also coming from Sidaco Ghana Limited. The next is Lithovit, coming from Agricult Ghana Limited.
Q. Mr Dodoo, according to the prosecution, this letter, Exhibit N, was written by A1. What do you say to that?
A. This letter was written by the Procurement Unit, with inputs from CODAPEC and Hi-Tech Units. The Chief Executive (CE) of Ghana Cocoa Board will only sign. The CE, from my personal knowledge, does not write letters and this particular one that I’m holding falls in the same vein.
Q. Until today, have you seen this letter?
A. I was shown this letter when the lawyers of A1 invited me to their office, and I looked at the letter, and I recalled that at about the same time a number of letters similar to the one I’m holding covering other agrochemicals were written. The lawyers showed me other letters, and I informed the lawyers that there should be more letters that I’m not seeing.
Q. When this letter, Exhibit N, was written, the PPA replied by Exhibit P. You’ve also seen Exhibit P?
A. Yes.
Q. Now, look at Exhibit P. According to the prosecution, when the PPA wrote Exhibit P, A1 responded by Exhibit Q and misled the PPA with respect to the values for money analysis. What do you have to say to that?
A. Exhibit P, which called for the value for money analysis, much, as it was addressed to the CE, it will be sent downwards. That is it will go down the ladder of the management pyramid, and when you look at the response, that is Exhibit Q, the distribution list, the Procurement Manager is down there in the list. This tells that the letter was written by the Procurement Manager, but signed by the CE.
Q. Now, do you remember the 1st time Lithovit Fertiliser was purchased in COCOBOD?
A. I will not remember, because a number of fertilisers were introduced along the operational chain, or during the course of the year.
Q. You said you have been on the Board from 2009, was it a one term Board?
A. No my lord. A new Board was put in place in January 2014. The staff of COCOBOD made me continue to serve on the new Board. So I was sworn in, together with new members. So I severed a second term. After the swearing in ceremony, the Board convened and took a look at the 2013/2014 Budget, which had been prepared earlier on. They took a review of the budget, that is 2013/14, and requested for an expansion of the coverage area for the application of fertilisers and other agrochemicals. Subsequently, CODAPEC/Hi-Tech Units submitted a list of fertilisers and other agrochemicals that will satisfy the expansion the Board required.
Q. Do you have the list of the expanded coverage area of the application area of the fertilisers?
A. No my lord, but when the lawyer shown me the letters that went to PPA, I recalled that it fit into the Board of Directors’ discussion on the expansion.
Q. Can you have a look at Exhibit N, is that the letter?
A. That is the letter.
Q. Now, have a look at Exhibit 60. This is a letter dated the 26/02/2014. Who wrote this letter?
A. My lord, this letter was written by the Procurement Unit.
Q. What does it concern?
A. The letter sought to address the value for money analysis requested by the PPA?
Q. With respect to what?
A. With respect to fungicides and insecticides?
Q. Look at Exhibits P, N, and Q, which concern fertilisers.
A. Yes.
Q. What are the dates on these letters?
A. Exhibit N, the heading is “Application for approval to sole source fertilizsers for cocoa hi-tech programme 2013/2014,” dated 19/02/2014. Exhibit P is from PPA, the heading is “Re: Application for Approval to sole source fertilisers for hi-tech programme.” It is dated 20/02/2014. Exhibit Q is from COCOBOD to PPA, the heading is “RE: Application for Approval to sole source fertilisers for cocoa Hi-tech programme 2013/2014,” dated 25/02/2014. Exhibit 62 is from COCOBOD to PPA, the heading is “Re: Application for Approval Fungicide insecticides for Codpec program 25/02/2014.”
Q. Exhibit 62 was in response to which letter?
DPP: Objection my lord. The objection is that this exhibit, which he has asked PW1 a question on, it is an exhibit that was rejected by this court on May 7, 2021. This exhibit no more exists and he cannot be eliciting responses on non-existing evidence. My lord, I further add that all responses related to the rejected document are expunged. He cannot seek through the backdoor for surreptitiously steal this question through to the witness. The question should be disallowed and other references should accordingly be disallowed.
Counsel: My lord, our response is that by the combined effect of section 6 and 8 of the Evidence Act, in so far as the objection was not taken at the time Exhibits 62 was tendered, it was properly admitted. And this is, therefore, the proper instance for the witness to refer to the exhibit, which has been … We add that when this court, on the May 7, summarily rejected it engaged in an act against the…
DD: The argument has been settled in the Supreme Court.
Counsel: The court sat in it a provision of statute not status…
Court: Upon hearing the learned DDP on her objection on Exhibit 62, and upon hearing the learned counsel on his response of the objection, it is clear that the decision of the Supreme Court, by a majority decision dated the 26/10/21 in civil motion J7/20/2021 at page…of the decision. The learned justices of the Supreme Court stated clearly as follows, “In conclusion, I will review the decision on July 28, 2021, and restoring the High court’s ruling excluding the exhibits…” Due to the circumstances, the reference to exhibit 62 cannot stand and all references to it in this matter are of no effect. In conclusion, the objection is upheld and all references to exhibit 62 are hereby expunged.
Q. Mr Dodoo, you mentioned this morning in court that letters were also written by the Procurement Unit for the approval for sole sourcing for fungicides and insecticides in 2013/2014?
A. Yes.
Q. Who wrote this letter?
A. Letters in respect of procurement emanate from the Procurement Unit to be signed by the CE.
Q. Did you see any of these letters?
A. Yes my lord, copies of these letters, and as Director of Audit, I saw all of them. When I assumed office as the Director of Finance in April 2014… Payments were made to a number of fertiliser and fungicide companies… I saw most of these letters.
Q. With respect to the PPA letters, can you have a look at these letters?
A. Yes. This is a letter from COCOBOD to the PPA dated 19/2014. Heading: “Application for approval to sole source fungicide/insecticides for the Codpec 2013/14.”
Q. What letter is this?
A. This letter was written by the Procurement Unit, with inputs from the Codpec/hi-tech unit when one looks at the distribution list.
DPP: My lord, I have an objection. The document is not in evidence.
Counsel: My lord, we want to tender this document.
DPP: We still have an objection.
Counsel: My lord, we will withdraw it.
Q. According to the prosecution, Exhibit S is evident that at the time Exhibit P, which is the application to PPA to sole source the purchase of Lithovit Fertilizer, there was no price quotation from Agricult Ghana Limited, what do have to say to this?
A. My lord, when the lawyers shown me this letter at their office, I asked them where are the other letters?
Q. What do you mean by the others letters?
A. I told the lawyers that I recalled that there should be or there were similar letters written to other companies. I explained to them that this letter headed ‘Request for quotation” is only soliciting information to help the Procurement Unit prepare the notification of contract award to the suppliers. And so, there should be more than one letter. I further explained to the lawyers that when they look at the content of the letter, it asked for the delivery period, delivery site, terms of payment, and the letter further requested for response by the close of the next day. That letter dated 25/02/2014. I asked for response by close of work on Wednesday, February 20, 2014.
Q. Now, you said you informed the lawyers that other companies received similar letter?
A. Yes.
Q. Can you have a look at Exhibit P and tell us which companies you are referring?
A. I informed the lawyers that Weinco Ghana Limited got a letter.
Q. If you say Weinco got a letter, what letter are you referring to?
A. My lord, Exhibit S was sent and was properly addressed to 1. Weinco Ghana Limited; 2. Louis Preyfus; 3. Chemico Limited. 4. Sidalco Ghana Limited and Sidalco Ghana Limitrd, and in addition to what I’m holding as Exhibit S.
Q. If you please, can you clarify a bit? If you say Exhibit S clarified herein and above. It is the same Exhibit S, which was sent?
DPP: This is not cross-examination, but evidence in chief. But he is asking leading questions.
Interjection: The concern raised was addressed by the court.
A. The content with the address… I told the lawyer to get more information. On 25/02/2014, a letter was addressed to Weinco Gh. Ltd: “Dear Sir, Requests for quotation” and my lord, the item mentioned is for them to do delivery. Same letters but depending on the product and what the company has to offer… the lawyers later informed me that they have written to the court and the court has provided them with copies of the letters that I drew their attention to. The lawyers shown me the letters they got from the court and I looked at them and I agreed that those were the letters I was expecting.
Q. Can you have a look at the letter to Wernco dated…?
A. Yes my lord, I will.
Counsel: We will like to tender this document.
DPP: I have no objection
A2 & A3 counsel: My lord, we have no objection.
By Court: Evidence not objected to and marked as ex 76.
Q. Can you have a look at this other one, which is a letter dated 25/02/2014.
Counsel: I want to tender this document.
DPP: I have no objection
Court: Document admitted as exhibit 77, 78 & 79.
Q. Can you look at exhibit 77?
A. My lord, it is a letter addressed to Louis Preyfus and the request to purchase cocoa … fertilizer. The letter requested from them to provide quotation, delivery period, delivery site and the terms of payment. The letter is dated 25/02/2014; they are to submit their response by closed of work on 26/02/2014.
Q. What about Exhibit 78?
A. exhibit 78 heading is “Request for quotation to supply 150,000 litres of Sidalo 6:0:20 fertilizer”. They are to provide information on delivery period, delivery site and terms of payment. And they are to submit their response by close of work on Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Q. Can you look at exhibit 79?
A. Exhibit 79, it is a letter addressed to Sidalsco, heading “Request for quotation”. They are to supply 150,000 litres of Sidalsco 10:10:10 fertiliser. They are to provide information on delivery period, delivery site and terms of payment. And they are to submit their response by close of work on Wednesday, February 26, 2014.
Q. Can you have a look at exhibit 80. What is exhibit 80?
A. Exhibit 80 is a letter to Chemico Gh. Ltd. It is headed: “Request for quotation” They are to supply 400, 000 bags of cocoa feed fertilizer.
Q. Who wrote all these letters, exhibits 76-80?
A. My lord, all these letters were written by the Procurement Unit, soliciting information for the preparation of notification for contract award.
Q. According to the PW7, that is the police investigator, exhibit S, which is in his words was unknown in the Procurement Unit and that nobody in the Procurement Unit knew about exhibit S. What do you have to say to that?
A. My lord, it is not correct. When one looks at the letters that have just been marked as exhibit 76-80, they all were written together with Exhibit S by the Procurement Unit. My lord, the interesting thing about these exhibits – S, 76 to 80 is that they follow each other in a chronological order based on exhibit N. My lord, the way this Honourable Court have numbered the exhibits and then when you look at the references at the exhibits you will see on top of Agricult the reference number ending with 122, we have Sidalco 6: 0: 20, the reference number ends with 123, Sidalco 10:10:10 fertilizer ends with ref No 124, and on top of Sidalco, we have Chemico Gh. Ltd, the reference number ends with 125. On the top of Louis Preyfus, the reference number ends with 126. The Weinco Gh. Ltd, which is on top of the list, ends with the reference number 127. All these letters were written by the Procurement Unit soliciting information.
Q. Can you have a look at exhibit T, which is a response from Agricult Gh. Ltd?
A. Yes
Q. According to the prosecution, exhibit T was written in furtherance of a breach of the PPA Act, namely the quotation was sent after COCOBOD had sent an application for sole sourcing on the 19/02/2014 that is Exhibit N?
A. My lord that is not correct. In my earlier submission I explained the … Codpec/Hi-tech unit in the procurement of fertilizers and other agrochemicals; I informed this court that Codpec/Hi-tech is a specialised unit with scientists from CRIG. They are the ones who indicate the type of fertilizers and agrochemicals to apply within a particular year. In their submissions they indicate the name of the fertilizer, company dealing in it, quantities and then they provide price because they deal with the suppliers. So with their knowledge from CRIG and their continuous interactions with CRIG, they provide the list of approved fertilizers and other agrochemicals with their relevant prices. The Procurement Unit will picked the data and write to PPA. So prices are available to the Procurement Unit and that is why when the procurement deals with fertilizers and other agrochemicals, they copy the Codpec/Hhi-tech unit.
Case adjourned to Thursday, December 9.

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