Opuni trial: My claim that lithovit fertiliser was initially powder was a second-hand information –Soil Scientist

Jerome Abgesi Dogbatse, a senior Soil Scientist at Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), says it is not a crime for his name to appear on a test report of lithovit liquid fertiliser.

According to him, it used to be the norm at the Soil Science Division of CRIG that every testing report must bear the names of all Soil Scientists in the division.

He told the Accra High Court, presided over by Justice Aboagye Tandoh, on Tuesday, that apart from lithovit, he has never been questioned or queried on any test report of fertilisers bearing his name.
The court was informed that the norm had since latter part of the year 2017 changed with the focus now on the Scientists who conducted the testing.

Jerome had said he did not participate in the testing of lithovit, but only reviewed the draft report, adding that as at November 4, 2013 when he was recruited by CRIG, the test had already been completed.
He added that his claim to the police that lithovit fertiliser was initially powder when it was first submitted to CRIG for testing was a secondhand information.

Mr Dogbatse disclosed that it was the former Executive Director of CRIG, Dr Alfred Arthur, who told him that lithovit was initially powder.
Dr Alfred Arthur is prosecution third witness who had earlier told the court that Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, former Chief Executive of COCOBOD, urged Scientists to shorten testing period for fertilisers in January 2014.

But when he (Jerome) cross checked with his immediate boss, the head of the Division, Mr. A.A. Afrifa, it was said the lithovit was a liquid fertiliser.

The court was further told that, while Jerome was being led in evidence by Benson Nutsukpui, counsel for Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited, that Mr. A. A. Afrifa had repeated same claim that lithovit was a liquid fertiliser before the Adu-Ampomah committee.

He again testified that no adverse effect or complaints were received from farmers who had used lithovit during a field evaluation rounds conducted in the Eastern region by CRIG in the year 2016.

The witness indicated that his immediate boss had told the committee that he was 100 per cent sure that lithovit was a liquid fertiliser and could increase yields.


Q: Yesterday, you told the Court that you appeared before the Dr AduAmpomah to answer a query, which was issued to you. That is correct?

A: yes my lord that is correct.
Q: Was the query in writing?
A: Yes it was

Q: Who signed it?
A: My lord, if my memory serves me right, it is Dr AduAmpomah himself.
Q: At the time he was the Deputy Chief Executive of Agronomy and

Qualify Control?
A. That is right.
Q. And you also told this court when you appeared before the Adu-Ampomah committee the person who questioned you was Dr AduAmpomah, the chairman?

A: Yes that is right
Q: Do you know Alhaji Seidu Agongo?
A: Yes, I met him at the arbitration.

Q. Which arbitration did you meet him?
A: I met him at the arbitration presided over by Justice Emile Short.
Q. Emile Short was one of the panel members, is that correct?

A. Yes, that is correct.
Q. How many members were in the panel at the arbitration?
A. I will not recall.
Q. Can you remember around what time the arbitration was?

A. I may not remember
Q. Do you know the parties, the people who had issues for which the arbitration took place?

A. I was invited to come and answer questions but I was not told who and who are involved.
Q: You said 4th November, 2013 when you assumed duty at CRIG, you said you were introduced as part of your orientation the testing of fertilizers on seedlings at the nursery. Did you say that?

A: Yes, I did say that.
Q: Tell this Court how long after that orientation, were you asked to review the draft report?
A: It would be some months later. The exact month I cannot recall.

Q: Can you remember who gave you the draft to review?
A: My senior colleague Dr. Alfred Arthur.
Q: Did he add any specific instruction or he just asked you to review. Simpliciter?

A: He only asked me to review.
Q: How many people were on the Dr. Adu Ampomah committee panel?
A: If my memory serves me right, I think including himself, we are four.

Q: Yesterday, you told us that on the evaluation rounds, you were privileged to be the Soil Scientist on the team that went to Eastern Region. Do you recollect that?

A: Yes I do.
Q: Do you recollect the name of the lead Scientist on that team?
A: He was the Entomologist on the team.

Q: By name?
A: Dr. Godfred Awudzi.
Q: Cast your mind beck if you can remember the towns that you went in the Eastern Region. Do you remember?

A: We followed the Bunsu-Kumasi stretch so we were on Osino. We talked to some farmers in at Jejeti, Oframase and Nkawkaw.
Q: Tell this Court the fertilizers that were supplied to the farmers in the towns in Eastern Region you visited?
A: It would be difficult for me to recall all, but I know lithovit was one of them.

Q. Q. Do you know the name Sidalco?
A. Yes.
Q. What do they have in relation to cocoa?
A. They produce fertilisers for cocoa production.

Q. What about Asasewura?
A. Asewura is a granular fertiliser.

Q. So you told this court that your questionnaire is designed to fines the fertilisers among agrochemicals and machineries used by the farmers in the previous years?

A. Yes in the previous season not the previous years
Q. So tell us about this questionnaire. What were the type of questions on the questionnaire?

A. First we have the location from administering the questionnaire. Name of farmer, sex or gender of the farmer, date of administering the questionnaire, and then we have sections for each agrochemicals unit. We have sections for insecticide, fungicides and a section for fertiliser and a section for machines and equipment.

Q. Can you recall some of the questions you asked in fertilisers?
A. The first question wants to know what fertiliser did you receive in the previous season.

The amount of quantities received. What mode do you use in applying the fertiliser. Is the fertiliser and there are options for use to select – good, very good or bad.

Was there any adverse effect on its usage. Do you like that particular fertiliser? Are there any recommendations you want to make in regards to the fertiliser and finally any questions for us.

Q. Would you remember just on the top of your jeans how many farmers the team spoke to?
A. I cannot recall because we have different interviewers and how far you can conduct the interview.

Q. Do you know Dr Gilbert Anim Kwapong?
A. Yes I do
Q. He told this court that the report from this evaluation normally highlights or pays attention to problems is that correct?

A. Yes that is correct.
Q. You see, Mr Jerome AbgesiDogbatse, do you know about adverse report that was issued by your team, which did with the field report?
A. No

Q. Now go to lithovit do you know about any adverse report that was issued by your team that went on the field trip?
A. No. Because I said earlier that after the interview my work end there.

Q. Can you recall generally, the answers that your team received from the farmers during the 2016 evaluation?
A. My lord generally, for fertilisers and fungicides, farmers do not complain. Most often the complaints come from the insecticides.

Q. When you said generally farmers do not complain about fertilisers and fungicides, what do you mean?
A: What I meant by that was that for the fertilisers and fungicides, farmers don’t complain on adverse effects on their cocoa tress or as individuals farmers as humans. But in some cases for the insecticide they do complain about irritation.

Q. So when you say your questionnaire asked the farmers whether the fertilisers are good, very good and bad. Do they give answer?
A. Yes they do

Q. Please tell the court if the farmers felt a particular fertilizer was bad would they tell you it was bad?
A. Yes my lord they will

Q. And if they give you that report would it be passed on the lead scientist and would that be the adverse findings in the report?
A. Yes. The questionnaire would capture it.
Q. There is a question do you like that particular fertiliser. Did you state the answer to that?

A. Yes.
Q. Do you know what is called farmers’ perception?
A. Yes my lord I know.
Q. Would the farmer perception be captured to that particular fertiliser?

A. For that particular question it is the observation of the farmer.
Q. This observation, which you was on your questionnaire, would that answer be passed on to the lead scientist and would that form part of any adverse findings that would be reported on?

A. Yes.
Q. Tell me how information collected and data gathered by officials of CRIG is communicated to COCOBOD?

A. What I know is after the field trip a report is compiled, sent to the committee for testing chemicals and machines. Then the committee forwards the report to the Executive Director who forwarded it to COCOBOD.

Q. So tell us when you go on field trips what does the CRIG management expects from the evaluating team that goes on the field?
A. The evaluation team is expected to capture the views of farmers on the agrochemicals and machines used the previous year or season and report to the management.

Q. So how does the team report to management on what it captured on the field trip?
A. It is to do a report.
Q. So at CRIG is it the case that all field trips concluded with a report?

A. For what I know that is the case.
Q. Sir, currently, now today what is your position in CRIG?
A. I’m a senior research scientist.
Q. And since you joined CRIG, you have been involved with other scientists involved in the testing of fertilisers?

A. Yes.
Q. Sir you told this court that your name was added to the testing of lithovit because they told you that was the norm?

A. Yes.
Q. And that norm you told the court, is because the work is of the division, all the soil scientists of the division are listed on the report?
A. Yes I did.

Q. How long did the practice of the norm pertained after you joined CRIG?
A. After the Dr AduAmpomah committee meeting, a decision was taken at CRIG that scientists who worked on a product should be those whose name should be on the report.
Q. And the meeting with Dr AduAmpomah was in September/November 2017?

A. Yes.
Q. So between 2013 when you joined and 2017, the norm was in existence?
A. Yes that is correct
Q. Dr AduAmpomah questioning you on that report questioned your name on the report?

A. Yes.
Q. Tell this court Jerome AbgesiDogbatse in relation to you, did you do anything wrong in your name appearing on the report?

A. No
Q. Kindly tell this court in the four years, from 2014-2016, many fertilizer test reports would your name have appeared on it?
A. Since that period my name has appeared on all the reports but I cannot give the exact number.

Q: Can you just give me an estimation. Would it be tens or hundreds? It would be in the tens but not in the hundreds. Above 50, below 50?

A: I can’t tell.
Q: Have you been queried in respect of any other report that your name have appeared on?

A: No.
Q: Have you been questioned in respect of any of those reports by an official from either CRIG or Cocobod as to why your name appear on those reports?

Q: No. itis only in respect of lithovit. That is correct?
A; Yes. That is correct.

Q: Dr Yaw AduAmpomah’s committee reported that they questioned you and some other scientists together. That appears on page 21 of the Yaw
AduAmpomah report. And the persons who were questioned in the presence of each other according to them are Dr. Alfred Arthur, Dr.OforiFrimpong, Mr.Dogbatse and Mr.Afrifa. Is that correct?

A: That 1s correct.
Q: Go to page 28. When you get to page 28, there is a small sub heading; lithovit. Have you seen it?
A: Yes.

Q: The second question there is “we questioned Dr Arthur. His response was that the sample submitted was powder. Your own report said grams. Something measured in grams cannot be liquid even in your own report, you said it was fine powder, you described it in your report?

Q: Have you seen it?
A: Yes I have seen it.
Q: Who asked that question?

A: It was the chairman for the Committee.
Q: And the chairman is almighty Dr. Yaw AduAmpomah?
A: That is correct.
Q: The answer to that question was what I tested was liquid. That is correct?

A: Yes.
Q: Who answered that question?
A: It was Mr. A. A. Afrifa.

Q: Yesterday, I asked you that when A. A. Afrifa was asked what he tested he said it was liquid. Do you remember that?
A: Yes I do.
Q: And I referred you to the page where he said he is 100% certain that it was liquid. Have you seen that?

A: Yes.
Q: Who was he referring to as Chief?
A: The chair of the committee. Dr Yaw AduAmpomah.

Q: Dr. Yaw AduAmpomah in Exhibit H page 28 then asked him another question. “The former Director of CRIG, Dr.Amoah, who received the sample says it was powder. You in your report stated that it was fine powder but the supplier brought liquid”. Who asked that question?

A: It was Dr. Yaw AduAmpomah.
Q: To that question on page 28 of Exhibit H, what was the answer?
A:The answer reads “No, chief, that one. I am 100% sure that what was brought to us was liquid in plastic containers and I remember that it was liquid”

Q: Who gave that answer?
A: It was Mr. A. A. Afrifa.
Q: The next question starts this way “the supplier says he has US$26 million worth of that product sitting in the warehouse and that we should come and buy.”

A: Yes.
Q: Who made that statement?
A. Dr. Yaw AduAmpomah.
Q: And the product that Dr. Yaw AduAmpomah is talking about is lithovit. That is correct?

A: Yes. That is correct.
Q: Then he went on. “When we took samples of the previous one he had supplied, the active ingredient of calcium carbonate by Ghana Standard Board was 0.002 percent of calcium carbonate. ”

A: Yes.
Q: And the same 0.002 percent of magnesium carbonate. Is that also there?

A: Yes.
Q: He went on. When we sent the same sample to chemistry department, it was 0.3 and 0.4 as against the maternal data sheet of 85 percent and 4 percent?

A: Yes.
Q: He then concluded “but the point is it was powder and he supplied liquid, 90 you are saying we should go and buy water. That 1s there?

A: Yes.
Q: All that statement was by Dr. Yaw AduAmpomah?
A: Yes. That is correct
Q. Tell this Count if you know Which product was Dr Yaw AduAmpomah talking about which he said that US$26 million worth was sitting in the supplier’s warehouse?

A it was Lithovit.
Q: And when De Yaw AduAmpomah stated that you are saying we should go and buy water. Which product was he referring to as water?

A. It was lithovit
Q: What was the answer to all those questions that we went through now?
A: The answer was no.

Q: The next question is this, “did you take samples from separately from what officially came to you through Agronomy and Quality Control, Executive Director and through you as head of Soil Science Division?”

A: Yes.
Q: What was the answer to the question?
A: The answer was “I remember that one very well, it was liquid.”
Q: The chairman still pressed him further on the issue of powder and liquid?

A: That is correct.
Q: Indeed he asked “when you stated in your report lithovit folia fertilizer is a very fine powder, you were not being truthful. He asked that question?

A: Yes he did
Q: And the Scientist, A. A. Afrifa replied no, the lithovit itself is a powder. What he brought to us was in plastic containers.

A: Yes
Q: Dr Yaw AduAmpomah asked all-powerful question. “Did he deliver through the correct process powder or liquid™
A: Yes he did
Q: And what was the answer of the scientist AA. Afrifa?

A: The answer was liquid.
Q: It is true that at this “face to face” meeting at the committee of the four scientists including yourself before the committee. Dr A AAfrifa was asked several time as to whether lithovit was liquid or powder?

A: Yes That is correct.
Q: And he was loud and clear that it was liquid.
A: That is correct.

Q: Go back to page 28 and tell this court what is your understanding of the reference of Dr Yaw Adu Ampomah to the supplier says he has US$26 million worth of the product sitting in the warehouse so we should come and buy.

A: My understanding is that he is informing Mr Afrifa the worth of fertilizer stung in the warehouse for Cocobod to buy.
Q: And what is your understanding of the very last line of that question “it was powder and he supplied liquid, 90 you are saying we should go and buy water?”

A: My understanding is that he was drawing Dr. A. AAfrifa’s attention that the product was powder but liquid was supplied so 1s Dr A A. Afrifa suggesting that COCOBOD should go and buy water. That is my understanding.

Q: Is your understanding of “are you saying we should go and buy water” in any way related to “the product sung in the warehouse”.
A: Yes.
Q: What is your understanding?
A: My understanding is that Dr Yaw AduAmpomah ‘as describing the Product as water.

Q: And what is that product by the evidence?
A: Lithovit.
Q: Look at page 31 in the middle, there is question again directed at Dr. A AAfrifa “are you saying you can vouch chat it can increase yield. The company says that they have US$26 million worth of the product, should we go and buy it when we have not actually conducted test. On what basis are you saying it can increase yield”

A: I have seen it.
Q: Who asked the question?
A: Yaw Adu Ampomah.

Q: And what is your understanding of the second to the third line that “ the company says that they have UD$26 mullion worth of the product sitting at the warehouse… on what basis are you saying it can increase yield”?

A: My understanding of the question is that he wanted to find out from Mr. A AAfrifa whether COCOBOD should buy the US$26 mullion worth of lithovit when he has not conducted any test to indicate the product can increase yield.

Q: Would you say that the US$26 million worth of the product “was of concern” to Dr. Yaw AduAmpomah?
A: Yes.

Q: What was the answer to that question?
A: The answer was “no, that one it based on what CHED people are supposed to do and I actually observed increase in the yield”
Q: Did you tell the police in your statement that you were told that the product when it t came to the institute was in a powder form but not liquid?

A: Yes I did.
Q: Who told you?
Q: Dr. Alfred Arthur.
Q: Mr. A A. Afrifa was the lead author and head of soil science?
A: Yes That is correct.
Q: Did you have the occasion to discus with him whether it was powder or liquid d?

A: Yes I dif.
Q: What did he tell you?

A: He said it was liquid.
Q: This statement, can you remember the date you gave it to the police?
A: I cannot.


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