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Opuni’s trial… 2nd prosecution witness gives ‘hearsay’ evidence

BY MUNTALLA INUSAH Mmuntalla.inusah@dailyheritage.com.gh


AN ATTEMPT by lawyers of Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, former Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, to urge the court not to allow the second prosecution witness to give hearsay evidence in the trial in which Dr Opuni and one other are facing charges of causing financial loss to the state has failed.
In court on Friday, when Dr Alfred Arthur, acting head of Soil Science Division of Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) appeared to give evidence as Second Prosecution Witness (PW2), his evidence was questioned by the defence lawyers on grounds that it was hearsay evidence.
Samuel Cudjoe, lead lawyer for Dr Opuni, after quoting and buttressing his argument with sections of the hearsay act, told the court that for the prosecution to surprise them with a witness who was only giving evidence based on what he had heard without documentary evidence should not be allowed.
According to him, the witness was only giving testimonies about things he had heard at a management meeting without any report to back them, a development he urged the court not entertain.
Hearsay evidence
The Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, who led the team of the prosecution, opposed the move and said the witness was only testifying about things he had heard and that the prosecution should not be forced to do the work of the defence team.
“He (witness) is not talking about any report; he is only recounting what he heard. He is only testifying to matters he heard at his presence at the committee,” she noted.
Court
Justice J. Clemence Honyenuga, a Court of Appeal judge sitting with the additional responsibility as a High Court judge, in his ruling, said, the witness never testified about a report but on matters he had heard.
According to the court, it could not direct the prosecution as to how to do its case and that the defence team always has the opportunity and is at liberty to cross-examine the witness.
Evidence-in-chief
While being led by the Director of Public Prosecution to give evidence, the witness told the court that the lead author and the executive director of Soil Science Division at CRIG, Mr A. A. Afrifa, had indicated that Lithovite Foliar Fertiliser performed similar function as some three fertilizers he had worked on for four years and found to increase the yield of cocoa.
‘I dint test Liquid Lithovite Fertiliser’
He told the court that in July 2017, “I was invited by EOCO to answer questions on the role I played in the testing of Lithovite Foliar Fertiliser. When I appeared before the committee a sample of fertiliser supposed to be Lithovit Foliar Fertiliser was shown to me by one of the investigators, Prosper Chris.
“On it, it was written 1-litre and there was another inscription…for Agricult Ghana Limited and it was a whitish cylindrical container with a green lead and the question was, ‘Was this the Lithovite you worked on?’ My response was that what you are showing to me is a liquid substance but even though the Lithovite I worked on was also in a whitish cylindrical container with a green lead, the name of the product was simply Lithovite and the weight was expressed as 1 kg, indicating it was a solid product.”
Cross-examination
Under cross-examination from counsel, he told the court that, “I am not aware” when asked if CRIG, as an institution, had a diary where daily activities were recorded ever since he was employed between 2010 and 2017.
He also told the court that he was not aware of any single book that records all activities of the seven divisions under CRIG in one diary when asked.

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