The committee that investigated the missing documents in the trial of former COCOBOD Chief Executive Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo concluded its work without finding the most ‘critical’ document.
Following a revelation that some important documents in the ongoing trial were missing or tampered with in the custody of Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), a division of COCOBOD, the committee was tasked by CRIG to investigate the matter.
The last time the case was called in court on January 21, Deputy Director of Legal Affairs at COCOBOD, Mr Johannes Velba told the court they had not been able to find the documents, but was directed by the court to ensure that the committee finished its work and filed the report in court before February 6.
Though the directive was obeyed, the report failed to find the whereabouts of a “crucial” document nor was it able to unravel who might have tampered with the folder that contained the missing documents.
Dr Opuni, a former Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, and Agongo, the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, are on trial for allegedly engaging in acts that incurred financial loss of GH¢271.3m in a series of fertiliser deals.
The document in question, according to defence counsel, is germane in bringing clarity to the major bone of contention since the case started on whether or not the Lithovit Foliar Fertiliser (LFF), which is the subject matter of the trial, was liquid or powdery in nature.
The missing document dated October 21, 2014 is a letter written by CRIG with reference number CRIG 39/14vol.19/6448, asking Agricult Ghana Limited to sponsor a training programme for farmers and extension officers on the use of Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser.
Though that letter was still missing, the committee’s report to the court interestingly included a pro-invoice on the missing letter, generated by the accounts department of CRIG and addressed to Agricult Ghana Limited.
The description on the invoice dated 10/21/2014 read: “AGRICULT/CRIG TRAINING/SENSITISATION PROGRAMME FOR EXTENSION OFFICERS AND FARMERS ON THE USE OF AGRICULT LITHOVIT LIQUID FERTILISER ON COCOA”.
Meanwhile, counsel for the second and third defendants Benson Nutsukpui, who was to continue his cross examination of prosecution witness Dr. Alfred Arthur, as well as counsel for the first defendant Samuel Cudjoe asked for more time to go through the report.
But the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mrs Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, stressed that the report filed by CRIG was clear that they can’t find the document.
She did not think both counsel needed time to study the report when the key element of interest is missing, noting that even if the case is adjourned, the fact that the document is missing will not change and nothing will bring it back.
But the court presided over by Mr. Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a justice of the Court of Appeal with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, said the accused were not given enough time to study the report because they were not served early.
So for justice to prevail, Justice Honyenuga said, time should be given to both counsel to study the committee’s report.
The case was therefore adjourned to Tuesday, 12th February, 2019.