A former Director of Finance at the Ghana COCOBOD Charles Tetteh Kwao Dodoo has told the Court that the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) approved the purchase of Lithovit Liquid fertilizer for farmers.
According to Mr Dodoo, the Procurement Unit of COCOBOD wrote letters in 2014, 2015 and 2016 seeking approval to purchase fertilizers which included Lithovit liquid fertilizer from the PPA and same were approved.
The former Director of Finance who was testifying as Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni’s first witness as he mounts his defence to charges against him said the PPA approved the purchase of Lithovit Liquid fertilizers.
Dr Opuni, the former Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD and Seidu Agongo, CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited have pleaded not guilty to charges including causing financial loss to the state and have been asked to open their defence.
In court on Thursday, December 2nd, the Defence Witness (DW) for Opuni told the court that, “from letters that came through my table (in 2014, 2015 and 2016,), when I was Deputy Director of Internal Audit, and when I served on the Board of Directors of sub-committees on finance. When, I attended budget hearings, when I assumed position as Director of Finance and my attendance of the Entity Tender Committee (ETC) meetings, and my personal inspection of imported fertilizers at the Ware House on the Spintex Road and Nsawam, payments that I made, the fertilizers that were purchased and paid for included Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer.”
He told the court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Justice of the Supreme Court, sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge that, his little knowledge in Sole Source is that, it required PPA approval.
“My little knowledge about the PPA (Public Procurement Authority) was that sole sourcing can only be done with approval from the PPA” and that “A number of the fertilizers fall under propriety rights and, so the scientists with the VODAPEC/Hi-Tech unit, when they indicate, the fertilizers to be purchased, they also indicate the specific company that supplies specific item and they will ask give the price per unit.”
While being led by counsel Samuel Codjoe to give evidence, he told the court that, “I saw the PPA letters, as Director of Finance when payments were being made for these fertilizers. I was in charge of the payments. The payments go through a rigorous procedure. It will go to the audit department for fiscal inspection.”
He added that, “All the documents will be forwarded to the audit department from my personal experience in audit ,all letters relating to the fertilizers, copies have been given to the audit departments.The department will now go back to the origins of the procurement. From the budget through PPA letters and approvals, to the ETC and fiscal inspection of items before the Director of Audit will give an indication and write on the documents given clearance for the items received to be paid for.
Approval letter in 2015
The witness again told the court that, in 2015, the procurement unit wrote to the PPA for sole source for the purchase of fertilizers, adding that, the fertilizers approved for purchase “included Lithovit liquid fertilizers, Sidalco, and Wienco, Chemico.”
Asked by counsel to explain to the court how the letter in 2015 to PPA for approval to purchase Lithovit Liquid fertilizer was written by the procurement unit of Cocobod, he said in “April 2014, I was the Director of Finance. Budget for 2014, 2015 preparation was underway when I assumed the position as Director of finance and within that period, some changes were made to the reporting lines to the VODAPEC HI-TECH units.”
He said, “this unit, was until then, reporting directly to the DCE A*AC and now has to report to a division called the Cocoa Health Extensions Division, so dealing with the new division all their correspondence pass through the executive director of the unit they find themselves.”
He explained that “anything about procurements that gets to the executive director of that unit, he sends it to the procurement unit for action.”
Vetting of procurement letters
The witness also told the court how he vetted procurement letters that came to him before they were sent to the CEO for signatures.
He told the court that, he vetted the PPA letters which were written for the sole source of Lithovit fertilizer.
“When I resume office as director of finance in April 2014, all procurement letters I vet them before they go for the CEOs signature,” he told the court.
The case has been adjourned to December 6, 2021.