The Lands and Natural Resources Ministry has broken its silence on the explosive report compiled by former Environment Minister, Prof Frimpong Boateng.
The cardiothoracic surgeon was the chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) set up by President Akufo-Addo.
In the 2021 report to the President which has just been leaked, Prof Boateng names senior government officials accused of active involvement in illegal mining locally called ‘galamsey’.
According to him, the ‘galamsey’ menace goes as high as the government seat, Jubilee House.
But reacting to the report, for the first time since it was leaked, the Deputy Lands Minister, Mr George Mireku Duker said that the document is under review at the Ministry.
In an interview with JoyNews’ Raymond Acquah, he stated that Prof Boateng has made his own allegations and that in order to avoid tainting the claims, he will leave the investigation to the security agencies if there are issues.
“But I wouldn’t also sit here and use issues raised in his report to implicate people. After all, if auditors come to work on your report on your company, you need to give an opportunity to the receiving end to respond accordingly.
“And I don’t think anybody has replied to the report. So I would impugn and in any sit here and also throw his report out,” he added.
Commenting on the citing of top officials in the canker, the Deputy Land Minister noted that he would refrain from “using Prof Boateng’s report as a benchmark”.
This, he stated is because he doesn’t share the view that he is an expert in mining.
“I know he was put in place to supervise a regime in terms of mining, of which he has done is part. And I will respect what he did. Maybe there are good things he did to support the country during his tenure. Even waking up in the morning to come to the office. This is a Herculean task.”
According to him, if government officials are hand deep in the menace, they need to be arrested.
“Those that we realised were indulged in that were indulgent in that, we either got machines burnt or perpetrators arrested so we get them arrested. We don’t speculate and tag people unnecessarily.”
When asked whether the Ministry will act on the report, Mr Mireku Duker said “That is why I have read excerpts, if there are good things in why not? We will take a cue from that so it is not something I am will throwing out.
“I will just leave that one in the hands of the investigative agencies to go through and do the needful. I am not in the position to critique it.”
In the 36-page document, the renowned surgeon mentioned some individuals he claims frustrated his effort and the committee he chaired from addressing the canker.
“Throughout our struggle with illegalities in the small-scale mining sector, what baffled me was the total disregard of the President’s commitment to protecting the environment.
“I can state without any equivocation that many party officials from the national to the unit committee level had their friends, PAs, agents, relatives, financiers, or relatives engaged in illegal mining. Most of them engaged Chinese working for them.
“I am not referring to party people who had their legitimate concession and were mining sustainably as they were instructed to do.
“There are appointees in the Jubilee House that are doing or supporting illegal mining or interfering with the fight against the menace,” excerpts of the document said.
Professor Frimpong also accused a former NPP MP in the Ashanti Region of selling illegally acquired concessions at GH¢200,000 each.
According to him, this “infuriated the party in the constituency so during the 2020 primaries to select a candidate the electorate voted against NPP MP, the then sitting MP, who was more resourced than other candidates.
Although there were allegations that he ‘camped’ delegates and attempted to bribe them, he lost to a lesser-known individual who did not have any financial muscle.
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