Former Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof Frimpong-Boateng, has hit back at Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko for describing details of his report submitted to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on illegal mining as silly.
According to Prof. Frimpong-Boateng who was chairperson of the erstwhile Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, while he believes Mr Otchere-Darko does not suffer from memory loss, he finds it necessary to remind him of the illegal mining activities of his client.
“Mr. Otchere-Darko, I don’t think you have retrograde amnesia, but I still want to refresh your memory about the destruction of the environment that had been perpetrated by your client over the years with the accompanying videos and pictures from Diaso forest and Apaprama.” The former minister said in a statement shared by 3news.com.
In a March 2021 report submitted to President Akufo-Addo via his chief of staff, the former Minister recounted an instance when Mr. Otchere Darko called to question his decision to order the dislodgment of equipment of a mining company, Imperial Heritage, which Prof. Frimpong-Boateng argues was mining illegally with a prospecting license in forest reserves.
Excerpts of the report pointed out, “We were ready to dislodge Imperial Heritage from Kobro Forest when Mr. Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko called to inform me that he was the lawyer for Heritage Imperial Limited, a company that was destroying the Kobro and Apaprama Forest Reserves and in the process had also polluted and diverted the course of the River Offin, as can be seen in the satellite images below.”
The report further added, “I informed the President about the behaviour of Mr. Gabby Asare Otchere-DaAndy Appiah-Kubi ‘attacks’ Gabby Asare Otchere-Darkorko and he promised to deal with it.”
But reacting to the claims by the former minister, Mr Otchere-Darko described as silly the decision by the minister to report him to the president who is his cousin.
“He is going to report me to the president as if he is a teacher, and the president is a master and I am what? A school prefect and I have done something wrong. What kind of silliness is that?” He fumed.
Mr Otchere-Darko who is a private legal practitioner contended in an interview with Citi FM’s Vivian Kai Lokko that the Minister only demonstrated his lack of appreciation for his own office.
He explained that contrary to the notion created, his call to the minister was to enquire why the minister had taken action against his client who had painstakingly acquired all the licenses and permits from legally clothed entities to perform legitimate operations at the said location.
“Heritage had a mining exploration permit issued in July 2019, a forest entry permit issued in November 2018, and also an EPA permit yet the soldiers went and seized the equipment of Heritage and so I called the soldiers and was told that it was the Minister who had sanctioned them and so I asked the Minister what the issue was with the equipment seizures and the Minister said they were prospecting and not exploring and that was the conversation that we had.
“My intervention was to understand why a legitimate company with all the requisite permits was stopped from doing their work and that is what lawyers do.” Gabby cleared.
According to the former minister, the company even if it had any license had gone beyond the remits and was actively engaged in illegal mining for which appropriate legal sanctions should have been applied.
“Even if your clients had all licences and permits, with the destruction that they caused, not only should they have been stopped from operating a mining company indefinitely, but they should also have been prosecuted, probably jailed, made to reclaim the land, vegetate it and clean the water bodies,” he stated.
The former minister in his response shared and referred to official documents which cited Heritage Imperial Limited for engaging in illegal mining.
Presidency describes Frimpong-Boateng’s galamsey report as hearsay of personal claims and grievances
Meanwhile, the presidency despite failing to act or respond to the report which was submitted to the Chief of Staff some two years ago has reacted to the former minister’s claims after the report was recently leaked to the media.
According to the presidency, the document authored by the former minister is without supporting evidence despite the various allegations implicating government officials as being involved in illegal mining or interfering in the fight against the same.
“Indeed, the allegations contained in the document are at best hearsay. It is instructive that since Prof. Frimpong-Boateng’s meeting with the Chief of Staff in March 2021, he has taken no step nor acted in furtherance of the matters contained in the document,” the presidency said in a statement dated April 22, 2023.
The presidency in the rejoinder dated Saturday, April 22, 2023, said “The document being discussed was not an official report formally delivered to the Office of the President. On the contrary, it can only be rightly referred to as a catalogue of personal grievances and claims made by Prof. Frimpong-Boateng, intended to respond to some issues he faced as Chairperson of the IMCIM.
“The document was handed to the Chief of Staff at the Office of the President on March 19th 2021, in an informal meeting, where Prof. Frimpong-Boateng complained about public attacks and criticisms made about his tenure as Chairperson of the IMCIM.”
According to the presidency, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng’s report did not have any official status and was not supported with any evidence despite the allegations contained in it.
“The document did not have a transmittal or cover letter nor, indeed, an addressee, such as to suggest that it was submitted to the Chief of Staff for action. It is noteworthy that the IMCIM was a creature of Cabinet, and any formal report on its activities would, normally, be submitted to Cabinet through the Cabinet Secretary, or directly to the President of the Republic as Chairperson of Cabinet. Till date, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng has done neither.
“It is important also to point out that, whilst Prof. Frimpong-Boateng makes serious allegations against some government appointees, as having been involved in, supporting or interfering with the fight against illegal mining, not a single piece of evidence was adduced or presented to enable the claims to be properly investigated,” the presidency noted.
Read Pro. Frimpong-Boateng’s full response below: