Director of Communications for the opposition National Democratic Congress, Sammy Gyamfi has rubbished the justification given by Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko in response to allegations of interference made against him by the former Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Frimpong Boateng.
According to him, Mr Otchere-Darko’s argument of acting professionally as a lawyer when he called Prof. Frimpong-Boateng on phone does not conform to the ethics of the legal profession.
“He said he is a lawyer and that if his client had been asked to stop work because they are engaged in alleged illegality he had a right to act through a phone call. Which law school or course thought you that as a lawyer when a minister stops your client, a mining company from working for going beyond what their prospecting licences permit you pick a phone to call the minister?” he questioned during an interview on Adom TV.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng in a 36-page report recalls how Gabby Otchere-Darko, a cousin of the president and an influential member of the ruling NPP, called him on phone to question his decision to order for 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.
In response however, Gabby pointed out that he was only acting in his capacity as a senior partner of Africa Legal Associates and legal representative of the company.
But according to Sammy Gyamfi, Mr Otchere-Darko’s decision to call the then minister on phone was nothing short of influence peddling.
“[As a lawyer] you write a letter to the institution that stopped your client. Once you start picking up phones and calling… If he was not the cousin of President Akufo-Addo would have been able to call Prof Frimpong-Boateng on phone? Lawyers we don’t work with phones when it comes to government, you write a letter. The phone call he made was just to peddle his influence, he was flexing his power; he was trying to show the minister that the people you were touching are my clients, my peopled and I am the president’s cousin, the de facto prime minister,” Sammy Gyamfi who is also a legal practitioner argued.
The report by Prof. Frimpong Boateng was authored in March 2021 and details the challenges he faced during his tenure as chairperson of the erstwhile Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM).
The former minister in the report submitted to the Chief of State alleged that some officials of the government and political actors were actively involved in illegal mining,
He further accused some individuals of interfering in the fight against galamsey.
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 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.