Mr Charles Tetteh Dodoo, the former Director of Finance of Ghana Cocoa Board, has revealed that the monthly Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contribution of Dr Stephen Opuni, who was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) was capped at GHS20,000.
Mr Charles Tetteh Dodoo, the defence witness in the ongoing GHC217 million financial loss case, made this revelation under cross examination. While under cross-examination by Mr Nutifafa Nutsukpui, counsel for Mr Agongo and Agricult, Mr Dodoo disclosed that Dr Opuni at the time, earned more than GHS25,000 as salary.
Mr Nutifafa Nutsukpui asked Mr Dodoo if he knew how much Dr. Opuni was taking as salary when he was in charge of Cocoa board. He responded in affirmative, quoting a range of figures he thought the CEO was taking.
“My Lord, it will be more than GHS25,000. I recollect that aspect because I was paying his SSNIT remittances on a cap of GHS20,000 given by SSNIT at the time… My Lord, his payment was based on the cap of GHS20,000.”Mr Charles Tetteh Dodoo
Opuni’s Salary Heftier than the Alleged Bribe Taken
The prosecution witness maintained during cross-examination and noted that the money was well within the earning capacity of Dr Opuni, whose salary at Cocobod, according to him, was heftier than the alleged GHS25,000 bribe he took.
“Now, sir, you told the court that the reason for charging A1 (Dr Stephen Opuni) and A2 (Seidu Agongo) in respect of the GHS25,000 deposit made into A1’s account by A2 was the conflicting statements they gave when they were interrogated separately. Am I correct?” asked Mr Nutifafa Nutsukpui, counsel for Mr Agongo and the third accused entity, Agricult Company Limited.
“Yes, my Lord”, the witness responded in affirmative.
Meanwhile, this is not the first time Dr Opuni’s salary as Cocobod CEO has come up during the hearing.
About a year ago, the investigator in the case, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Prempeh Mercer, told the same court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Justice of the Supreme Court sitting as an additional High Court judge that Dr Opuni’s salary as Cocobod CEO was “way above” the GHS25,000 deposited into his account by Mr Agongo.
Mr Mercer, who is with the Financial Forensics Unit (FFU) of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, made the comment in court on Monday, 22 March 2021. A week earlier, he told the court that Mr Agongo admitted to him that he paid the amount to Dr Opuni to be used as charity for the poor.
Dr Opuni, businessman Seidu Agongo and his Agricult Company Limited (First, Second and Third Accused Persons in that order) have been standing trial for more than four years in connection with the supply of the alleged substandard fertiliser which, according to the State, caused the nation to lose GHS217 million.