The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovations (MESTI), Prof Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, has lodged a complaint with the Ghana Police Service against a journalist with Accra-based Peace FM and the suspended Central Regional Vice-Chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Ekow Ewusi, who is one of six suspects already being investigated by the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service in connection with some missing excavators that were seized from illegal miners (galamseyers).
Also part of the complaint lodged by Prof Frimpong-Boateng, who is also the Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM), is a former National Security Coordinator for the Central Region.
In a letter dated 5 February 2020 bearing the minister’s signature and addressed to the Director-General of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Prof Frimpong-Boateng said: “In October last year, one Mr Seth Mantey, a journalist working with Peace FM, was apprehended because of unlawful excavator sales. In the course of the investigations, Mr Mantey confessed that he was contracted by Mr John Ofori-Atta, the then-National Security Coordinator for the Central Region, and Mr Ekow Ewusi, to use his bank account at the National Investment Bank for what, effectively, was money laundering.
“The proceeds from the excavator sales were lodged in Seth Mantey’s bank account.
“The moneys lodged were later cashed and given to Mr John Ofori-Atta, who, in turn, gave some of the money to Ekow Ewusi.
“Seth Mantey’s statement and a statement from the National Investment Bank are attached to this letter.
“I wish to appeal to the police authorities to investigate the matter”, the letter read.
On the same day that Prof Frimpong-Boateng addressed the letter to the CID, the leader of the team in charge of monitoring and securing all seized earthmoving and auxiliary equipment used for illegal small-scale mining revealed that 315 excavators had been seized as of 31 January 2020 but only 127 are left in the central pool in Accra.
According to Nana Yaw Boadu, some of the excavators have found their way back into the forest reserves.
He said about 32 are back in the forests of Obuasi, Ashanti Region while about 15 are back in Tarkwa, Western Region.
“Some of the machines have gone back to the mining site”, he told Accra-based Asempa FM’s Ekosii sen talk show on Wednesday, 5 February 2020.
According to him, the team, in collaboration with the CID, is now investigating how the seized excavators found their way back to the bush.
Nana Yaw Boadu said the trackers on some of the excavators were “disengaged”, thus, the difficulty in tracing them.
Apart from the excavators, Nana Yaw Boadu said the team is also in charge of all other mining equipment seized from the galamseyers by the Operation Vanguard team. They include fuel pumps, batteries, and ‘chan fans’.
About a week ago, Prof Frimpong-Boateng disclosed that some of the 500 excavators allegedly seized by the IMCIM had gone missing.
In an interview with Accra-based Joy FM, Prof Frimpong-Boateng said: “We were told that 500 [excavators] had been seized and given to the district assemblies but later on, when we went out to check, the figure was far less than that”.
Asked the exact figures, Prof Frimpong-Boateng answered: “I cannot tell you exactly what but I can tell you it was far lower than the 500 put out”.
He, however, noted that the earthmoving equipment that went missing, were in the custody of the district assemblies. “That was the case in most of the areas, so, we sent people out there to talk to the district assemblies and we got Vanguard involved and most of them had disappeared”, Prof Frimpong-Boateng said.
On Tuesday, 4 February 2020, the CID issued a statement announcing the arrest of six suspects in connection with the missing excavators.
They include the suspended Central Regional Vice-Chair of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Horace Ekow Ewusie.
The others are Frederick Ewusi, Joel Asamoah, Adam Haruna, Frank Gyan and John Arhin.
Ekow Ewusi, Frederick Ewusi and Joel Asamoah have been cautioned on the offence of stealing while Adnan Haruna, Frank Gyan and John Arhin have been cautioned on the offence of abetment of stealing.
The CID statement said the suspects were arrested on Monday, 3 February 2020 at Abelemkpe in Accra.
While all this was happening, a video popped up on social media which captured the voice of Prof Frimpong-Boateng and Mr Ewusi as well as others having a heated argument over galamsey.
Certain known names in the NPP such as the General Secretary of the party, Mr John Boadu; and the party’s Ashanti Regional Chair Mr Bernard Antwi Boasiako (Chairman Wontumi) were mentioned in the video in connection with some concessions.