Dubious MinistryOfLands Staff Busted
Gabriel Sarpong, an employee of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, has landed himself in trouble after he allegedly extorted monies from illegal miners and other related activities.
The suspect, an IT officer at the ministry,allegedly pocketed various sums from his victims in excess ofGH₵200, 000, using the name of the deputy minister, George Mireku Duker.
He is currently in the grip of the Ministries Police Station, after Mr.Duker, who is in-charge of Mining and also a Member of Parliament (MP) for Tarkwa-Nsuaem in the Western Region,instructed his arrestimmediately the suspect’s cover was blown.
His arrest,according to The Anchor’s information, follows a tip-off by one Yaw Dacosta on Tuesday, September 13, 2022. He was said to have allegedly confessed tohis fraudulent activities upon arrest.
Yaw Dacosta, described as an accomplice, speaking to The Anchor, said he and his boys were recruited by Sarpong to act on behalf of the deputy minister, without his knowledge.
Their pre-occupation was to storm mining areas across the country,ensuring that miners had the requisite documents to mine in order not to pollute the water bodies and the environment in general.
Their nefarious work was designed away from government’s Operation Halt, Operation Vanguard and other measures in place already.
In a phone interview with The Anchor, Yaw divulged details regarding their work, saying, “Operation Vanguard’s work is different from ours. We were going round to sack those doing illegal mining, destroying the water and lands.
“If you we come and you have paper, we just educate you to cover the used land after you are done. We also educate them not to destroy the water bodies and the forest in general.
“Our job was monitoring and surveillance. If we come and you have destroyed the land too, we question you and look at the havoc you have caused …….”
Yaw and his colleagues started this work as far back as December 2021, but due to the deadly nature of the job, he requested that Sarpong facilitate an appointment letter sanctioning their work from Mr.Duker.
According to him, they needed the letter because the illegal miners most of the time held guns and other dangerous weapons and so they needed to have the backing of government.
He said that even though they continued to work, raking in the said amount of GH₵200, 000 to Sarpong, the letter never came. On many occasions, Yaw said, he came to the ministry to engage the suspect, but he kept assuring it would be given to them.
On these occasions, he could not get the opportunity to see the MP and deputy minister,he said, adding even though he had seen the deputy minister on television, he never met him in person.
Interestingly, Yaw said, they always communicated with Sarpong, thinking it was the deputy minister. This was possible because the suspect used a different phone number, impersonating Mr.Duker, always talking to them and thanking them for their work.
Yaw said, “He told us that he was working for the minister, so any job we do, it was on his behalf. But when we finish talking to Sarpong, he calls us with a different number, pretending to be the deputy minister.”
“It’s unfortunate because the work we were doing was risky and so if we had died, we would have died in vain. I have audios and other stuffs but I want to see the deputy minister first before I release them,” Yaw lamented.
Yaw said he hails from Manso, but based at Anyaa, a suburb of Accra,where he is a New Patriotic Party (NPP) member. He is also a shoe seller at Kantamanto in Accra.
According to him, he is not new to the ministry, claiming he was one of the people who supervised seized excavators during the first year of the NPP administration and he is known by many in the ministry and that was how he got to know the suspect.
He explained, “I was coming to the ministry. From the beginning, I was in-charge of excavators and so a lot of the leaders in the ministry, know me so I am no stranger there.”
He added, “I thought that he was aide to the minister, but after I did my own investigation, I realized that the deputy minister knows nothing about the task given to us by Sarpong.”
Yaw said he decided to engage in this work, because “there is nowhere in Ghana I have not gone but I was not happy with the way the environment and water bodies are being destroyed.”
According to him, their work was always in the open because they sometimes even went with the media and in instances where they arrest illegal miners, they hand them over to the security agencies.
He said, “We sometimes arrest illegal miners and hand them over to the Immigration and other bodies. We always go with the media. There is one reporter from Accra FM who has gone on operations with us for about four times.”
“We even have captured all our operations on a pen drive for him and the deputy minister, yet the minister said he has no knowledge about it, he noted.”
Yaw continued, “Meanwhile, he calls to talk to me like the minister thanking me for our good work, but when we went to the police, he admitted that it was him, but not the minister and apologized.”
Yaw explained that, unknown to his intention, Sarpong accompanied him to Mr.Duker’s office, where he was apprehended after he narrated his reason for being there with Sarpong.
Meanwhile, according to him, the deputy minister has asked the security agencies to handle the matter diligently to ensure that the law deals with Sarpong severely.
The minister said the onward prosecution of Sarpong, will serve as a deterrent to others in the same trade of activities to desist from that, he told the paper.
More To Come…