Story: News Desk
A cousin of President Akufo-Addo has rejected the allegations by the former Environment Minister, Prof Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng that he interfered with his efforts to fight the illegal mining menace.
Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko said he never asked the cardiothoracic surgeon, who doubled as the former Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM), to engage in any illegality or to condone same.
This comes after Prof Boateng submitted names of people in government frustrating his effort to fight what is locally called ‘galamsey’ when he was Environment Minister.
A 36-page document written by Prof. Boateng addressed to the president, the Chief of Staff, and the police included Mr Otchere Darko’s name.
Portions of the report read: “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.
“I informed the President about the behaviour of Mr Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, and he promised to deal with it.”
But Mr Otchere-Darko is fighting back.
According to the NPP stalwart, he only called the renowned medical doctor to seek information on his client – a company that had the permits to mine in the country.
“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,” he said in an interview with Accra-based Citi FM on Thursday.
He added that Prof Frimpong-Boateng deliberately twisted his mediation to cause public disaffection for him.
“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 explained.
The outspoken politician said the former minister misunderstood his responsibilities.
“It tells you how weak the [former] Minister’s understanding of his position is. If what I did was illegitimate, why didn’t he take the right action? He said he had reported me to the president as if he is a teacher and the president is a headmaster, and I am a prefect,” he added.