Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng
Former Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng has in a strongly worded statement replied lawyer Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko over his reaction to the leaked report of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM).
Prof Frimpong-Boateng, who chaired the Committee, accused Mr Otchere-Darko in the report he authored for interfering in the work of the IMCIM by calling him on phone to justify the work of a mining company destroying Ghana’s forest reserves and engaging in illegal mining otherwise known as “Galamsey”.
He said that “What saddened me most was when Mr Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko called to defend a company that was actively destroying the environment, especially the forests and River Offin in the Apaprama and Kobro Forests.”
Professor Frimpong-Boateng in a bombshell report disclosed that Gabby pestered him when the IMCIM was about dislodging the Imperial Heritage, a mining firming illegally mining in the forest reserves and destroying water bodies.
However, the leading member of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) chided Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng for some excerpts in his report on galamsey when he replied the renowned heart surgeon in an interview with Accra-based Citi TV.
He accused him of having a weak understanding of his position.
According to Gabby, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng twisted a conversation he had with him to mean that he was defending galamsey.
Mr. Otchere-Darko explained that the only time he engaged the ex-minister was when a client of his law firm had issues with officers of the government’s GalamSTOP operation
He explained that Heritage Imperial Limited was accused of prospecting for gold and had its equipment seized which made him intervene because the company had all the relevant permits to do what they were doing.
“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.”
Mr. Otchere-Darko added that it is unfortunate Professor Frimpong-Boateng had to twist the interaction he had with him to mean interference in the IMCIM’s work.
“The Minister deliberately twisted the inquiry by a lawyer of a client’s issue to be an interference and the thing is, it was even a phone call that lasted not more than four minutes and he ended by saying Heritage shouldn’t have been issued with the license.”
Mr Otchere-Darko also said Prof Frimpong-Boateng reporting him to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was a non-starter because the President is a lawyer and would not just act on such verbal complaint.
But in a quick reply to this, Prof Frimpong-Boateng pointed out that Mr Otchere-Darko only exhibited industrial-scale ignorance about mining laws and regulations.
“After listening to the words of Mr Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, I became sad for Ghana,” the cardio surgeon wrote.
“I wondered what happened to us to get to this state, where a person who is supposed to be a lawyer to a mining company exhibited such industrial-scale ignorance about mining laws and regulations.”
Prof Frimpong-Boateng reminded the lawyer and media personality of how his client had a strong history of acting with impunity.
“Mr. Gabby Otchere Darko, it is laughable that you claim to have called me to seek information on your client. If you needed any information, you could have called the Minerals Commission. You know I did not operate mining information services.
“You called to tell me that your client had a valid mining licence and all necessary permits. I told you that Heritage Imperial Co. Ltd. did not possess documents permitting it to undertake active mining. That notwithstanding through your intervention the Chinese, who were arrested were released by the task force. The many soldiers who were providing security service to your client’s company attacked the IMCIM task force team and damaged the vehicle carrying
journalists who were covering the IMCIM operations. The unfortunate scenes were captured on camera and shown on JOY TV.
“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 pictures and videos from Diaso forest and Apaprama.”
Prof Frimpong-Boateng pointed out that per the destruction caused by Mr Otchere-Darko’s client they should have been prosecuted and probably jailed by now.
By Vincent Kubi