Charles Cromwell Nanabanyin Onuawonto Bissue, the presidential staffer and secretary to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) who has been fingered for engaging in corrupt activities in the fight against illegal mining in the latest expose by Anas Aremeyaw Anas has decided to step aside from his position.
In a statement on Friday evening announcing his decision to step aside, Mr Bissue said he was innocent and expressed the hope of being exonerated after investigations into the matter.
He explained he has since communicated his decision to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and to the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof Kwabena Frimpong Boateng.
Bissue, has been fingered as the foremost turncoat against efforts by President Akufo-Addo to weed out illegal mining in the country.
In the latest undercover work of ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas and his Tiger Eye PI group exposing corruption, Bissue emerges as a facilitator for a company seeking to circumvent laid down processes to be given clearance for its mining operations.
He is captured in a secretly recorded video receiving wads of cash to facilitate the speedy ‘clearance’ of a mining company in order that it can begin mining as soon as possible, and is heard in the video instructing his subordinates over the phone to “fast track” the processing of the company’s documents.
Several others connected to the work of the IMCIM, otherwise known as the Presidential Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, are seen in the video playing “facilitating” roles at negotiated fees.
There are security operatives, informants and go-betweens who offer to provide the company with information on the movements of a security taskforce against illegal miners, and others who offer to provide armed guard for the company’s concession, actions that are in sharp contrast with the objectives of the very institutions they work with or purport to work for.
Mr Bissue in his statement on Friday evening said: “I have taken notice of the contents of the latest documentary by Tiger Eye PI titled ‘Galamsey Fraud’, I would like to state at the very outset that I am innocent of the allegations leveled against me in the documentary, as I was not and have been engaged in any acts of corruption, criminality or misconduct.”
“However, in the interest of transparency and accountability, and so as not to compromise the work of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM), I have informed the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Chairperson of the IMCIM, of my decision to step aside from my position as Secretary to the Committee, pending an investigation into the allegations.”
”I call for such an investigation, and I am prepared to avail myself, at all times, to the process. I am confident that, at the end of it all, I will be exonerated, and my good name will be preserved,” he said.
The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, comprising the ministries of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI); Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR); Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD); Chieftaincy & Religious Affairs; Regional Re-Organisation and Development; Water and Sanitation; Interior; Defence; and Information, was commissioned in March 2017 by President Akufo-Addo to sanitise artisanal and small-scale mining in the country as well as develop a roadmap towards lifting an indefinite ban on small scale mining that lasted about 21 months.
The committee is chaired by Prof Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation.
In addition, President Akufo-Addo also set up a joint security taskforce (Operation Vanguard) that rummaged mining areas in the country to enforce the ban, seize or destroy mining equipment of those who flouted the ban, as well as arrested offenders for prosecution.
The ban and subsequent setting up of the committee, which were widely endorsed nationwide, followed widespread devastation of farmlands and river bodies by small scale and illegal mining activities.
It was suggested at the time that if nothing was done to reverse the devastation, Ghana was soon going to have to import potable water as the country’s rivers risked imminent ‘death’.
However, allegations have been rife in recent times of the suspected complicity of some government appointees in facilitating the clandestine operations of illegal mining firms much against the national effort to clean-up the space.
Those allegations have, as expected, been met with vehement rebuttals usually by those accused of complicity, or their associates.
But with the latest development as captured in Part One of Anas’ Galamsey Fraud, it appears government has more on its hands to do to achieve that national objective.
Writer’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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