Assin Central MP Kennedy Agyapong has accused the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng together with the suspended Central Regional Vice-Chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Ekow Ewusi, of charging GHS25,000 for each of the seized excavators to anyone who needed them.
“I just don’t talk. I want you to realise that I’m not creating problems for your radio station. My own Chairman, Dankwa Smith (Bute) in Central Region, he first introduced Ekow Ewusi to me. For every excavator, Ekow Ewusi and Frimpong-Boateng charged GHS25,000”, Mr Agyapong asserted when he spoke to Benjamin Akakpo in an interview at the foyer of Parliament on Thursday, 20 February 2020 ahead of the President’s State of the Nation Address.
Mr Agyapong said he had in his possession, the receipts for some GHS75,000 paid for three of the excavators, “but they did not give the machines to them”.
The lawmaker also claimed one Adusei had the receipt for some GHS50,000 he paid for two excavators which were also not released to him.
Meanwhile, Prof Frimpong-Boateng has denied all the allegations made against him in the public domain concerning the galamsey menace.
“It is not true”, he told a mob of journalists in Parliament on Thursday.
“I mean, look at me, I came back to Ghana from Germany at the age of 39 to set up the National Cardiothoracic Centre. The building there was constructed without a cedi’s contribution from the government. … I reformed the Ghana Red cross Society, founded the Ghana Heart Foundation; everything that I’ve done in this world is for Ghanaians”, the world-renowned heart surgeon said.
He insisted: “I’ve not done anything for myself”.
“Look at me, I’ve not taken bribe before, I’ve not extorted money from anybody, I’ve not done anything wrong before, and it saddens my heart that people can associate me with illegality; this is wrong”, Prof Frimpong-Boateng said.
On the allegation that his son, Jojo, was also involved in galamsey, Prof Frimpong-Boateng, who is also the Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) said: “He is not. He is not involved in anything and the world will get to know very soon”.
Pressed about whether or not he would resign, Prof Frimpong-Boateng retorted: “For what purpose?” “You’re asking me about what we’ve done so far and I’ve given you a run-down, do you think that with this assessment, I should resign?” he asked the journalist who posed that question.
In his address, President Akufo-Addo vowed that no one found culpable in the missing excavators scandal, would be shielded by his government irrespective of who they may be.
“The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) along with Operation Vanguard, are determined to disrupt galamsey activities by confiscating equipment that were employed in these activities. In this regard, 12,000 changfan machines that go on the river and scoop up the river bed, were seized and destroyed on site; some excavators were also seized and a number of them have gone missing”.
“The police have arrested and charged some of the culprits and investigations are ongoing and no one involved will be shielded no matter what their positions or political colours are”, the President promised.
On 5 February 2020, the leader of the team in charge of monitoring and securing all seized earthmoving and auxiliary equipment used for illegal small-scale mining (galamsey) revealed that 315 excavators had been seized as of 31 January 2020 but only 127 were 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 were back in the forests of Obuasi, Ashanti Region; while about 15 were back in Tarkwa, Western Region.
Weeks earlier, 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 Ewusi.
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.