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Various Measures Underway to Boost Implementation of AfCFTA, Intra-Trade: AU Commissioner MuchangaOpuni Trial: EOCO never completed the investigations – Witness

The African Union is undertaking various measures including a trade observatory and Africa intra-trade fair to boost the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) , commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission Albert M. Muchanga said.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, Commissioner Muchanga said that the Africa intra-trade fair that took place last year had a transaction of over 43.5 billion USD.

This demonstrates the extent to which African countries can unleash the exponential benefits from promoting intra-trade and further encourage investment in the continent.

‘So when those happen it means that they are going to increase investment flows across Africa and the suppliers are going to know their customers and what they need. So these are some of the activities that we are undertaking to promote the African free trade,’ he elaborated.

Stating that infrastructure is the critical thing towards accelerating the implementation of AfCFTA, Muchanga pointed out t
hat massive investment is needed to scale up the prevailing infrastructure.

Citing the African Development Bank (AfDB)’s assessment, the Commissioner indicated that Africa needs about 170 billion USD to develop the necessary infrastructure across the continent.

Furthermore, he added that capacity building of the member states is pivotal not only in building new infrastructures but also in effectively utilizing it for collective benefits.

Some of African countries have been supportive of the AfCFTA efforts in building infrastructures across the continent, he emphasized.

‘Here I can give an example, the railway between Ethiopia and Djibouti, then when go down south right now the US, UK and EU are teaming up to develop the Lobito Corridor, which is going to link Angola, DRC, and Zambia. And the Chinese are rehabilitating Tanzania-Zambia railway at a cost of about 1 billion USD,’ Muchanag said.

The AfCFTA aims to create a single market for goods and services and a liberalized market for goods and services to
enhance the movement of capital and people

Source: Ethiopian News Agency

Mr Paul Adjei Gyang, a Senior Staff, Operational Unit, Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) said they never completed investigations on the alleged fraudulent importation of agrochemicals sold to COCOBOD.

He told the Accra High Court hearing the trial involving Dr Stephen Opuni, the Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited, that during the investigations, the Organised Crime Unit, which he used to head, was asked to hand over the docket to the Police for further investigation.

Mr Gyang, who is the subpoena witness for Mr Agongo, gave his evidence led by Counsel for the accused person, Mr Benson Nutsukpui.

Dr Opuni and Mr Seidu Agongo, a Businessman, are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the State, money laundering, and corruption by a public officer in contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GHS300,000.00 self-recognizance bail each.

He said it w
as around January 17, 2017, that an investigation was referred to the Unit through the Deputy Executive Director of Operations from the Executive Director of EOCO.

He said Dr Adu Amponsah, the Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control at COCOBOD brought in samples of Lithovit to have it tested.

‘I was called into the Executive Director’s Office and given the bottles of the product together with covering letter from COCOBOD, which had details of the product,’ he added.

He said one of the samples was sent to the Ghana Standards Authority, while the other was sent to the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana for testing.

Mr Gyang said the testing was to establish through experts whether the chemical was fertilizer.

When shown a copy of the report received by the Unit as part of the evidence before the court, the witness confirmed it but said the evidence does not have a cover letter as it was addressed to EOCO.

The court, therefore, directed the witness to provide from his
outfit a copy of the cover letter that came with the report.

The witness told the court that the face of the report that represented the chemical lacked the necessary ingredients to make it a fertilizer.

He said after the Executive Director of EOCO went through the report, he directed that Agongo should be charged with the appropriate offence immediately and Agongo was invited.

He said Agongo requested for a copy of the report initially for his lawyers to enable them to advise him, but he objected to the request.

He said Agongo was informed after the report was submitted but insisted that the product submitted for testing might not be part of what he supplied to COCOBOD.

The witness said after some deliberations, it was agreed that they should still have some products from the COCOBOD warehouse, where suppliers were informed to assist in identifying the products to be tested to avoid any objection.

‘All the suppliers were written to, to assist in the selection of the products to be tested and in this ca
se Agongo came with his lawyers,’ he added.

Mr Gyang said according to the investigator, when they went to the warehouse, there were two security personal present from COCOBOD.

According to the investigator, they were given one liter of lithovit, which seal had already been broken.

Asked what the arrangement was, the Executive Director of EOCO said with Dr Ampomah regarding the collection of the samples, he said the arrangement was that both the suppliers and the receiver met with COCOBOD officials.

He said they met two security men, attended on behalf of COCOBOD, and they gave the team a liter of lithovit with a broken seal.

According to the witness, Agongo initially rejected the product looking at the broken seal but seeing the label on it, he said it was his but could not guarantee the content and the parties agreed for the product to be sent to Ghana Standards Authority.

The witness said on June 30, 2017, the product was sent for testing and the Office received the second test report from the GSA an
d a copy addressed to the Executive Director of EOCO.

He said from the report’s surface that the second testing indicated that lithovit was a fertiliser and the witness agreed with the defence that even with the seal being broken, the content was fertiliser.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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