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COCOBOD trial: Witness admits he is not an expert in fertiliser

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A scientist at the University of Ghana Chemistry Department who was asked to analyse Lithovit Fertilizer has admitted that he had no expertise in the field of fertilizer.
Dr. Emmanuel Yaw Osei-Twum who is the 5th prosecution witness was testifying in the ongoing trial of former COCOBOD boss and two others.

Under cross-examination, the witness was asked by Nutifafa Nutsukpui, stand-in lead counsel for Seidu Agongo, the number of publications he has on fertilizers as an expert.

But Dr. Yaw Osei-Twum conceded, “My Lord, I am not an expert in fertilizer chemistry, I am analytical chemist and my work covers a broad range of samples. So I don’t claim to be an expert in fertilizers.”

After analysing the Lithovit Fertilizer, five out of the 10-page report the team submitted to EOCO was a reproduction of existing materials.

Based on Dr. Yaw Osei-Twum’s responses, lawyer Nutsukpui asserted, “I am putting it to you that both of you, who you claimed carried out the analysis on [Lithovit Fertilizer], do not in the greatest respect know what you were looking for.”
But the witness rejected that assertion.
However, the lawyer insisted, “And Sir, you see, you did not do the work entrusted to you by EOCO, you cut corners based on your answer immediately above, I am putting that to you.”

He responded, “My Lord, we did not cut corners. The request says we were to examine and that included literature review as well as tests.”

Below is excerpts of the cross-examination
Q. Sir, how many publications do you have on fertilizers. you are an expert?.

A. My Lord, I am not an expert in fertilizer chemistry, I am analytical chemist and my work covers a broad range of samples. So I don’t claim to be an expert in fertilizers.
Q. Sir, but fertilizer chemistry is a specialty in field of chemistry and persons practice that. that is correct.

A. My Lord, that is not correct. There is no field in chemistry called fertilizer chemistry.
Q. So Sir, when you just said “I am not an expert in fertilizer chemistry”. Did you just mislead the court, Sir.

A. My Lord I am not misleading the court.
Q. Sir you see, I am putting it to you that there is a field of specialty in fertilizers in chemistry.A. My Lord, if there is any field of fertilizers then it would be in crop science, not in chemistry.

Q. Did you have a field in Chemistry in Material Science, is there anything like that, Sir ?.

A. No. Material Science is in Engineering.
Q. How many publications does Prof. Donkor have on fertilizers?.

A. Prof. Donkor is not here, I cannot answer that question for him.
Q. I am putting it to you that both of you who you claimed carried out the analysis on this sample, do not in the greatest respect know what you were looking for?.

A. My lord, we knew exactly what we were looking for ?.

Q. And that is why of a ten-page report you would copy and reproduce contents of the MSDS on five out of those ten pages, I am putting that to you .

A. My Lord, that is not correct, if you go to page 9 of our report in Exhibit H references we got a number of information from the literature and as I said we were not going to reinvent the wheel. If we were to do those tests basically to reinvent the wheel, I am sure we will be doing those tests and the report won’t be out.

Q. And Sir, you see, you did not do the work entrusted to you by EOCO, you cut corners based on your answer immediately above, I am putting that to you.

A. My Lord, we did not cut corners. The request says we were to examine and that included literature review as well as tests.
Former CEO of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Opuni, businessman Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Company Limited, are facing 27 charges of willfully causing financial loss of ¢217 to the state, through three separate fertiliser supply contracts between 2014 and 2016.

They have pleaded not guilty to all the charges and are on self-recognition bail of ¢300,000 each.

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