Dr. Stephen Opuni.
Unionized workers in the cocoa industry are calling for investigations into alleged dubious deals by the sacked Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) Dr. Stephen Opuni.
The Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) and the General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) alleged that the former COCOBOD CEO sold some of the cash crops and kept the proceeds.
According to them, such deals had cost the country in excess of $10 million, adding that the monies could have been used to develop the country.
General Secretary of GAWU, Kingsley Nkansah, in April last year, disclosed at a meeting with journalists that “thousands of tons of cocoa are sold by the management of COCOBOD which is hidden from the government and for which no proper accounts are maintained either. This is known as Special Sample Residue.”
“The Special Sample Residue is done by drawing an average of 0.3kg of cocoa beans from each bag taken over and sold by the Cocoa Marketing Company. So for every 1,000 tons of cocoa, they [management] get on the average 4.6875 tons, an equivalent of 75 bags,” he said.
The workers said information on the deal was passed on to a former Employment and Labour Minister, Haruna Iddrisu and former Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah on the underhand dealings at COCOBOD, as well as the former Commissioner on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) but all to no avail.
The unions also alleged that management of COCOBOD had offered an illegal contract to a former employee called Harrison Idris Hassan, who was the past chairman of COCOBOD Local Union at its head office and Supreme Consultative Council, to transact cocoa business even though he was not qualified.
They said Hassan was supported by Dr Opuni and management to go to cocoa producing areas to force unsuspecting workers to sign up to an unregistered in-house union which he established.
Additionally, they said workers who questioned the credibility and the rationale behind the formation of the in-house union were victimized through transfers to distant locations.
The workers added that the issue of transfers had gravely affected union leaders and other clerical staff members, hence the appeal for investigations into the saga.
By Samuel Boadi