Opuni’s Trial; Court Interrogates Scientist who tested Lithovit Foliar fertilizer
Dr. Alfred Arthur, the Research Scientist at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), that tested Lithovit Foliar fertilizer has commenced his evidence in chief, in the trial of Dr. Stephen Opuni, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD.
Dr. Arthur said he has worked with CRIG for 8 years, and is currently the Acting Head of the Soil Science Division of CRIG.
According to Dr. Arthur, he got to know of the third accused company (Agricult Company Limited), when they submitted Lithovit foliar fertilizer to be tested on cocoa in 2013.
Dr. Arthur also said in the year 2013, he was involved in the testing of various fertilizers including Lithovit Foliar fertilizer.
In explaining how he got the Lithovit Foliar fertilizer and where he tested it, the second prosecution Witness, Dr. Arthur, said a letter introducing Lithovit Foliar fertilizer signed by the former Deputy Executive, Agronomy and Quality Control of Ghana COCOBOD, was minuted to him by the then Head of the Soil Science Division, Mr. A. A. Afrifa, to go for a sample of Lithovit Foliar fertilizer from the Chairman of the CTCM, Mr. Andrews Yaw Akrofi.
“I went for the sample which was in a whitish cylindrical container with a green lid.
I opened the lid and found a fine powdery substance in the container. The contents in the container was cross checked with the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that came with it, and the physical form as stated in the MSDS was powder”. He revealed.
“The Head of the Division then handed over the Lithovit Foliar fertilizer and the accompanying MSDS, and other dossier on the product to me, and instructed me to carry out a test on cocoa seedlings using Lithovit Foliar fertilizer.
I prepared a budget and submitted same for the approval of the Head of my Division for onward submission to the Executive Director and then to the Company that sent it”. Dr. Arthur explained.
A whitish container with a green lid, containing a substance, was shown to the Second Prosecution Witness, and he identified it as Lithovit Foliar fertilizer and same was tendered in evidence.
Counsel for Dr. Opuni, Mr. Samuel Codjoe objected to the tendering of the alleged Lithovit Foliar fertilizer.
“The witness claims that this particular exhibit is what he tested. It is not possible for him to have worked on this alleged Lithovit Foliar fertilizer and at the same time have all the content of the Lithovit Foliar fertilizer in the container. The Court should reject the exhibit”. Mr. Codjoe requested.
Director of Public Prosecution Intercedes for the Witness
The Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs. Yvonne Attakora Obuobisa, argued that the Witness, Dr Arthur had said that the evidence handed to him in Court, was the sample handed over to him to work on at CRIG.
She added that the Witness was yet to tell the Court the kind of analysis he conducted, quantum used and the report.
“The fact that the container together with it’s content, has some weight can never suggest by any stretch of imagination that this was not what the witness says was handed over to him in July 2013.
The objection as raised by counsel for the first Accused has no basis whatsoever, under the rules of evidence and should be overruled”. She said.
“Secondly, the basis for Admissibility of any evidence in this court is relevance. The Accused persons have been charged with offences that have to do with this substance, Lithovit Foliar Fertilizer.
The Witness has told us who he is, where he comes from and the chain of custody, culminating in how he finally received this product which is already an evidence in this court, and since he is the one who worked on it, he must be allowed to tender it and the Witness may be cross examined by Counsels for the Accused persons”. She added.
The Court overruled the objection.
The Witness explained that the MSDS indicates the health and safety measures of the products, the name of the product, manufacturer, country of origin, chemical composition, physical form or appearance are all clearly indicated in the MSDS and also gives information on first aid measures one has to take in case there is an accident in handling the product.
An exhibit was handed to the Witness, and he identified it as the MSDS which accompanied the Lithovit Fertilizer that was handed to him to work on in July 2013.
According to the Witness, the MSDS that accompanied the fertilizer, indicates the Country of Origin as Germany, the manufacturer at Zeovita , GHMB, the physical state as powdery, the colour as grey and the substance being odourless.
“These are the relevant information scientists look out for in the MSDS, when handling a product submitted by a client”. He reiterated.
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