Probe corruption in ‘galamsey’ fight – ASEPA petitions Amidu

 

The Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA), has petitioned the Office of the Special Prosecutor to begin investigations into allegations of corruption levelled against people involved in the fight against illegal mining.

The Civil Society Organisation (CSO) took the action following a plethora of alleged complaints of malpractice, corruption, and misuse of equipment seized by illegal mining (galamsey) fighters empowered by government.

The most recent of the incidents that has wrecked the fight is the public testimony by Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM), Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, that several seized excavators were missing.

In the petition issued on Tuesday, its Executive Director, Mensah Thompson, said ASEPA wanted “investigations into the alleged thievery and corruption that has bedevilled the national fight against illegal mining”.

The CSO described the alleged acts as “stealing, bribery, corruption, abuse of public office for private gain” which the government has empowered the Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu to probe and bring the culprits to book.

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has been at the forefront of heavy criticisms against government for its failure to account for earth-moving machines and other equipment seized from the sites.

The Media Coalition Against Galamsey and pressure group, OccupyGhana ,are also demanding answers, expressing their displeasure about the turnout of events.

In a letter dated February 5, 2020, Professor Frimpong Boateng tasked the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service to investigate Peace FM journalist, Seth Mantey, a National Security Officer and Central Regional Vice-Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Ekow Owusu.

Mr Ewusi is said to have provided support to the joint police and military anti-‘galamsey’ task force, ‘Operation Vanguard’, by providing space for the seized excavators.

Some members of ‘Operation Vanguard’ have also been implicated in allegations of misappropriating confiscated items from individuals and companies perpetuating illegal acts despite a ban on ‘galamsey’.

Below is the full statement:

PETITION TO INVESTIGATE ALLEGED THIEVERY AND CORRUPTION IN THE FIGHT AGAINST “GALAMSEY”

The Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability-ASEPA is a Public Accountability Civil Advocacy Group operating in Ghana with prime interest in Anti-Corruption Campaigns, Civil Advocacy and Environmental Protection.

We petition your high office under Section 2, 3(b) and (c) of the Special Prosecutor Act, (Act 959) 2017 to invoke the jurisdiction of the Special Prosecutor to open investigations into the alleged thievery and corruption that has bedevilled the National Fight Against Illegal Mining (Galamsey).

In 2017, the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced Government’s decision to fight illegal mining activities that was destroying our forests, lands and water bodies. This was followed by a nationwide ban on all mining activities in the Country and the setting up of an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining herein referred to as (IMCIM) and also the Operation Vanguard which was a joint Military and Police Taskforce specifically set up to combat the menace.

This project as we were made to believe was very dear to the heart of the President and as such huge resources of the State were allocated to the IMCIM and the Operation Vanguard team to assist them to function effectively and bring the menace under control.

About two weeks ago, our attention was drawn to a video in circulation on social media which captures a conversation between one Ekow Ewusi who is the Central Regional Vice-Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and member of Government’s task-force against ‘galamsey’ and Professor Frimpong Boateng who is the current Minister for Environment, Science and Technology. (Find video attached and marked Exhibit 1A)

In the said video, Mr.Ekow Ewusi was heard narrating how Prof. Frimpong Boateng who chairs the IMCIM authorised him to facilitate the illegal mining business of John Boadu, the General Secretary of the NPP, Chairman Wontumi and other NPP functionaries ostensibly to raise money to finance the New Patriotic Party.

In the same video, Prof. Frimpong Boateng is heard admitting that he gave such orders to Mr. Ekow Ewusi. Again, in that same video, Ekow Awusi is heard accusing the son of the Minister of Environment, Science and Technology who doubles as the chairman of the IMCIM, Jojo Frimpong of engaging in illegal mining in the country.

Again, we have become aware of the fact that about 500 Excavators, 4045 other mining equipment and 2779 weapons and ammunition seized from alleged illegal miners by the IMCIM have been misappropriated and cannot be accounted for. There have been accusations and counter-accusations as to the whereabouts of the seized excavators and who had misappropriated them.

Subsequently, we have also heard from some small-scale miners giving chilling accounts of how seized gold, vehicles, weapons and other equipment belonging to them have been misappropriated by the Operation Vanguard Team, the “Galamstop” task-force and IMCIM. Kindly find media publications on this fact attached and marked as Exhibit 1B,1C and 1D.

These latest revelations of corruption in the fight against galamsey show that, the whole fight against illegal mining was a sham and a plot to get licensed small-scale miners out of business so that some elements in government can take over small scale mining in the Country.

Today, the turbidity of our water bodies has worsened, leading to a rise in skin infections and other diseases such as diarrhoea in communities affected by the “galamsey” menace. Kindly find attached a picture of river Pra, in 2017 before the ban on small scale mining and its current state here in attached and labelled as Exhibit 2A.

We believe that these latest revelations of massive rot in the galamsey fight boarder on offenses such as stealing, bribery, corruption, abuse of public office for private gain, and other serious offenses which your office is mandated to investigate.

It is in this light that we request your office to launch full investigations into the misappropriation of seized items such as excavators, mining equipment, gold and weapons by the IMCIM through the fight against illegal mining in the last three (3) years.

We think that the IMCIM, “Galamstop” and Operation Vanguard must be investigated by your office to unravel those responsible for this rot so they can be made to face the full rigours of the law.

Thank you.

Signed:
Mensah Thompson
Executive Director, ASEPA

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