Opuni trial: Witness disowns prosecution’s powdered lithovit sample entered into evidence
The state’s third prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of former Cocobod Chief Executive, Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo has disowned the prosecution’s own powdered lithovit foliar fertilizer sample entered into evidence last year.
It will be recalled that during his evidence in chief on 29th October 2018, the state’s second prosecution witness, Dr Alfred Arthur who was a research scientist at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), and played a key role in the testing of Lithovit Foliar fertilizer in 2013, disclosed that the sample brought to him to test was a fine greyish powder in a cylindrical container with a green cover. In his testimony he said “A letter introducing Lithovit folia fertilizer and signed by Former Deputy Chief Executive Agronomy and Quality Control of Cocobod, Dr Yaw Adu Ampomah, was minuted to me by my head of division, Mr A.A. Afrifa to go for the sample from Chairman of the committee for Testing Chemicals and Machinery (CTCM)”.
Counsel for the first accused, Sam Codjoe at the time objected to the tendering of that sample into evidence arguing that it is impossible that the lithovit sample is intact in the container even after the witness claimed he worked on it. But this was over ruled by the court and the sample admitted into evidence with Dr Arthur emphatic it was the sample brought to him from Cocobod to work on in 2013.
However, in a surprise turn of events, when faced with that same sample in the cylindrical container during hearing on Wednesday, 27 November 2019, Dr. Yaw Adu Ampomah denied knowledge of the said sample. In his words, “My lord I don’t know where this is coming from because this will not be the sample that was brought the first time. The first sample came in 2013 and I don’t know whether it is this same sample you are referring to. The sample which came in 2013 of which Dr Amoah is referring to, I wouldn’t know if it is the same thing you are showing to me.”
Dr. Yaw Adu Ampomah maintained that the lithovit sample tested in 2013 was powder while subsequent supplies to Cocobod were liquid even though two of the three scientists who wrote the final report on the test of lithovit have stated that the product they worked on was powder. According to Dr Ampomah, Mr. Alex Asante Afrifa was being untruthful while Jerome Dogbatsey was basing his assessment on the lithovit sample he saw doing field work in 2016.
Here are excerpts of Wednesday’s cross examination by Lawyer Sam Codjoe:
Q. Dr Adu Ampomah, in your committee report, Mr Dugbatsey informed you that at the time he was employed in November 2013, the nursery work on lithovit had been completed. Isn’t it
A. No he said the work was ongoing and when he was employed, he was sent to the nursery and showed where the experiment was ongoing.
Q. In fact, he states specifically that he played no role and that work had already been done before he joined CRIG on November 4, 2013
A. When he said it has been done, it doesn’t mean it was completed. He was a young scientist so he wouldn’t know because he was just being shown so he could not know if the work was completed.
Q. In fact his answer is consistent with your own testimony you gave in this court that the nursery work was completed in three months.
A. No my lord the report stated that the work was done on the young seedlings for three months. As to when it started, it was not stated.
Q. Dr I am putting it to you that by the evidence of Dugbatsey and also before the committee, the three months ended before Dugbatsey was employed on November 2013.
A. No my lord
Q. Did the committee in its report find that Dugbatsey lied before it with regards to when work was completed?
A. No my lord
Q. In fact, Dugbatsey states that when he was employed in November, work had been completed and that he only reviews the report and therefore did not play in a role in doing the work
A. Yes and as I have previously stated, the “done” here does not mean the work was completed. It wasn’t. My understanding of it has been done was that it was ongoing.
Q. In fact when you asked him on page 3 whether he has seen lithovit foliar fertilizer being used, he told you he has seen the product being used.
A. Yes my lord
Q. And when you asked him whether lithovit was powder or liquid, his answer before the committee on page 3 is that it was liquid. Isn’t it?
A. Yes my Lord. This was based on what he had seen in the field in 2016
Q. On page 28 of exhibit H, when you asked the then head of the soil science division, Mr A A Afrifa whether what was supplied is liquid, he gave you an answer.
A. Yes my lord
Q. What was his answer?
A. “Chief that one I can be 100% certain that it was liquid that was submitted”. That’s what he said but this was at the committee when we called the 3 scientists whose names were on the report. These scientists were Dr Arthur, who counsel has shown here today, received the product who said the product he received was powder and from Mr Afrifa’s own mouth at the committee, he never saw the product but he instructed Dr Arthur to work on it.
Q. In fact on page 28 of exhibit H, Mr Afrifa states that what he tested was liquid.
A. My lord the committee found that Mr A.A. Afrifa never tested anything. It was rather Dr Arthur who worked on the product and the committee found that Mr Afrifa was lying to the committee because the MSDS said the product was powder. Dr Arthur who received the product and worked on it said it was powder. Former director of CRIG Dr Amoah who received first the sample said it was powder. It was only Mr Afrifa who never saw the product, never worked on it who was saying it was liquid.
Q. The question is did Afrifa inform the committee “what I tested was liquid”?
A. My lord as I have said the committee found that he was lying because he never worked on it
Q. You also invited Dr Amoah who was the director of CRIG at the time the lithovit was sent by you to CRIG. Isn’t it. And Dr Amoah informed the committee that the sample which was submitted to CRIG was powder weighing 10 kilos.
A. Yes my lord
Q. I put it to you that this (exhibit E) which was admitted in court on 29th October 2018, cannot weigh 10kilos
A. My lord I don’t know where this is coming from because this will not be the sample that was brought the first time. The first sample came in 2013 and I don’t know whether it is this same sample you are referring to. The sample which came in 2013 of which Dr Amoah is referring to, I wouldn’t know if it is the same thing you are showing to me.
Q. From exhibit H, that is the report, the 3 scientists whose names are on the report at Dugbatsey, Arthur and Afrifa who was head of the soil science division. Isn’t it
Q. Out of the 3 scientists, two of them namely Dugbatsey and Afrifa state that lithovit is liquid before the committee. Isn’t it
A. Yes my lord but this same two never worked on the product. It was only Dr Arthur who received the product and worked on it. These same two scientists also confessed to the committee that they never worked on the first product that was sent for CRIG to test upon which the first certificate was issued
The case has been adjourned to Wednesday December 5 for continuation. Meanwhile the court is set to hear an application of perjury filed by counsel for the first accused against the Prosecution witness, Dr. Yaw Adu Ampomah on December 17, 2019.