Opuni case: AG’s witness cracks under cross-examination, contradicts himself

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Dr Emmanuel Yaw Osei-Twum, a lecturer at the Chemistry Department of University of Ghana, who is the state’s 5th witness in the case involving former COCOBOD CEO, Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo, is reeling under hefty punches from the defense counsel as they punch holes into his evidence.

Dr. Osei-Twum appeared in court on Wednesday, 21 October 2020 to give account of what he knows regarding an analytic test of lithovit fertilizer (which is at the centre of the trial). It is recalled that the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) in May 2017 sent a sample of the Lithovit Fertiliser to the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana for analysis, ostensibly to determine the efficacy or otherwise of the product.

Giving his evidence in chief, Dr. Osei-Twum noted that he and a lead scientist at the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana, Professor Augustine Kwame Donkor wrote the report which has been admitted into evidence before the court. He added that Head of the Chemistry Department, Dr. Luis Doamekpor signed the report before it was forwarded to EOCO.

His stance, however, shifted during cross-examination by counsel for Seidu Agongo, Nutifafa Nutsukpui. When asked whether he indeed wrote the report, Dr. Osei-Twum said he and his other colleague (Prof. Donkor) gathered data and formatted the data. He, however, admitted that he personally did not write the report as that was done by a secretary in the department.

When quizzed on whether he reviewed the report before it was signed and sent, he responded in the affirmative.

Mr Agongo’s lawyer then referred him to the Background Text of the report which captured exactly what EOCO needed to be done on the sample and why.

Dr Osei-Twum maintained that he had no idea the reason for the analysis was due to an ongoing investigation into alleged procurement breaches at COCOBOD.

Here are excerpts;

Q. You told this court Professor Donkor and yourself did write the report on which you have just testified

A. We prepared the report

Q. So when you say you prepared the report, is that different from writing the report

A. Yes

Q. Please tell the court what your preparation of the report means

A. We put together the data, we formatted the data the way the report should be written

Q. So who in fact wrote this report?

A. We have a secretary in the department who writes the report for us

Q. Did you review this report?

A. Completely

Earlier, lawyer for Dr. Opuni, Sam Cudjoe, challenged Dr. Osei-Twum’s participation in the compilation of the analytic report as he asked: “From the report what shows that you worked on it since there is no indication that you worked on the report?”

In his response, Dr. Osei-Twum said even though there is nothing to show that he and Prof Donkor worked on the sample, there is documentation that shows that the Chemistry Department worked on the report and submitted it.

This is what ensued between them:

Q. I am putting it to you that if you had worked on the sample personally, you would have given a police statement

A. At the time we analyzed the sample we were dealing with EOCO. EOCO never indicated to us that it had anything to do with criminality. We were only asked to analyze the sample

Q. Did you download the MSDS or you got it from EOCO?

A. We got a copy from EOCO

Q. You were untruthful to this court when you told this court that EOCO never briefed you about any criminality concerning the procurement of lithovit

A. My lord I am chemist, not a lawyer, I have nothing to do with the law. Prof Donkor and myself didn’t sit down to discuss the criminality associated with the sample that EOCO submitted to us so I have not lied to the court.

Q. I am putting it to you that EOCO briefed the department of chemistry about the fact that it was conducting investigation into the procurement of lithovit and it wanted the department to test the lithovit fertilizer

A. If EOCO briefed anyone, it would have been my head of department and I am not aware

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