Kojo Oppong Nkrumah
Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah and New Patriotic Party (NPP) stalwart, Gabby Asare Okyere-Darko have refuted claims levelled against them by former Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng.
The Professor had indicted the two in his report to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) and accused them of sabotaging his effort to combat illegal mining, otherwise known as galamsey.
While Gabby said his action had been twisted by the former minister to create a misconception, Oppong Nkrumah stated that the claims against him were fabricated and expressed disappointment in the heart surgeon.
The Information Minister maintained Prof. Boateng lied against him in the aforementioned report and has forgiven him.
Prof. Boateng claimed in a 37-page report that an unnamed person called him to inform him that Mr. Nkrumah had convened a meeting of NPP and NDC journalists in Dodowa on February 8, 2020, to discuss a strategy to bring him (Prof. Boateng) down, implying that this is the source of subsequent negative media reports about him.
He alleged that on February 13, 2020, the Information Minister went to a cabinet meeting with a report on him and the missing excavators, noting that it was part of the strategy by the Information Minister to bring him down.
Furthermore, Mr. Boateng alleged that after the 2020 elections, Oppong Nkrumah blamed the NPP’s poor performance in mining areas on the war against illegal mining, and that this was all about him.
However, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has angrily disputed the charges, claiming that he never gathered journalists to plot how to bring him down because it is not in his nature to injure people in his line of work as a politician.
He added that on February 9, 2020, he was invited to Dodowa as a guest of honour to a Private Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG) event on financial reporting organised by the Bank of Ghana.
“This event was not a secret. It was widely promoted on media platforms and my personal social media handles as well. It was a workshop to train journalists on how to understand and deepen their reportage on financial matters in Ghana.
“The event had nothing to do with the fight against galamsey, not even remotely. As is customary with such events, I was received by organisers and protocol officers openly at the arrival ceremony, ushered into the event hall openly, invited to deliver my remarks openly and escorted for the group photograph afterwards openly,” Mr. Nkrumah said.
“My exit from the event and the reportage of my remarks were also done openly. Neither the anti-galamsey fight, nor Prof. Boateng were matters for consideration at this BOG and PRINPAG event,” he indicated in a statement.
He said Prof. Boateng courted unfavourable media attention to himself by writing to the Ghana Police Service in January 2020 and claiming the theft of several excavators in which he called for an investigation.
He said Prof. Boateng mentioned the figure 500 in his subsequent media interviews as the number of missing excavators.
“Again on or around February 20, 2020, it was Prof. Boateng himself who at Parliament House (during interviews on the SONA) engaged in exchanges with the media about the said excavators and promised that they would be recovered.
“For the record, these are the matters that occasioned the media reports about Prof. Boateng and the said excavators. Further, it was Prof. Boateng himself who was later to be seen in a video making comments about the anti-galamsey fight and the release of excavators.
“I Kojo Oppong Nkrumah was not responsible for his initial police report, his subsequent interviews, or any of the claims he made. To be clear, it was Prof. Boateng’s own reports, interviews and videos that generated his media challenges around the time,” he suggested.
He continued, “I am thus disappointed that he would, in this document, seek to blame me for the media reports.”
Concerning the charge of cabinet briefing on galamsey, the Ofoase Ayirebi lawmaker noted that he has the task to attract cabinet’s attention to problems of public concerns and issues that have detrimental impact on the administration’s and country’s image.
“The claim (that 500 excavators seized by the Government had supposedly gone missing) is a major matter of national interest and it would therefore have been a dereliction of duty on the part of any Information Minister to have excluded it from his or her cabinet brief,” he said.
“To perform my duty of briefing cabinet on media reports cannot be a sinister act against another Minister. If the President needs to be briefed in cabinet on a matter by a Minister, it is done in the open, without malice, fear or favour. It would rather have been sinister to do so surreptitiously,” he emphasised.
Asare Okyere-Darko, who was accused of sabotaging efforts to combat the galamsey scourge, denied the claims in an interview with Accra-based Citi FM, saying he never urged the former Environment Minister to engage in any wrongdoing or condone it.
According to the NPP stalwart, he just called the renowned surgeon to inquire about his customer, who owned a company with mining exploration permits in the country.
He stated further that he only phoned some soldiers to inquire about a mining firm whose equipment had been seized on the orders of Prof. Frimpong Boateng despite the fact that it possessed the necessary permits to operate.
He said, “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.”
“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,” he added.
By Vincent Kubi & Ebenezer K. Amponsah