The Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) is shocked that the Office of the Special Prosecutor declined to probe acts of corruption hampering the fight against illegal mining in the country.
ASEPA had petitioned the office to probe the mining sector and ensure the enforcement of small scale mining laws with a focus on the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining and the anti-illegal mining task force, Operation Vanguard following the disappearance of hundreds of excavators seized from illegal miners.
But the Office in a response to the petition indicated that the matter presented does not raise questionable issues in terms of corruption to warrant its attention.
Reacting to the latest development on Eyewitness News, Executive Director of ASEPA, Mensah Thompson disclosed that his outfit will resort to the law courts to get the Special Prosecutor to conduct the necessary inquiry into the matter.
“I am very much disappointed at the response of the office of the Special Prosecutor. The response smacks of some inconsistencies and dishonesty in the way the Special Prosecutor responded. Our next line of action is to refer the matter to our lawyers. We have a meeting coming up to consider what will be the issues in terms of the law. We want to assure the good people of Ghana that this matter has not ended yet because we are determined to get to the bottom of the matter. We will look at local remedies available to us including International Union on the Conservation of Nature and other international bodies that deal with the protection of the environment. These are serious matters that we do not have to joke with,” said Mr. Thompson.
The letter signed by the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu explained that the Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) had already launched a full-scale investigation into the matter.
The Special Prosecutor in the letter said the CID is in a better position to handle the issue.
“A review of your letter of complaint, however, has led this Office to the conclusion that the facts and conjects upon which underpin your complaint do not raise any issues of corruption and corruption-related offences as narrowly defined under section 79 of office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 (Act 959) to warrant any investigations by this Office,” Martin Amidu added in the letter.
ASEPA had said recent allegations of corruption in the fight against illegal mining “show that the whole fight against illegal mining was a sham and a plot to get licensed small scale miners out of business so that some elements in the government can take over small scale mining in the country.”
The group further held that the allegations “border on offences such as stealing, bribery, corruption, abuse of public office for private gain and other serious offences” which fall under the purview of the Special Prosecutor.
So far, six persons have been arrested in connection with the missing excavators and since granted bail.
The six, include the suspended First Vice Chairman of the New Patriotic Party in the Central Region, Ekow Ewusi, who was also heard in an audio recording with the Environment, Science and Technology Minister, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng discussing the prospect of mining on some concessions.