Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources staff jailed 15 months for fraud in illegal mining

An Accra Circuit Court has sentenced Gabriel Gyamerah Sarpong, a staff of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, to 15 months imprisonment over fraud.

Sarpong had collected over GH¢200,000 from illegal miners to be given to Mr George Mireku Duker, deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources.

Appearing in court last Friday, Sarpong pleaded guilty to defrauding by false pretences.

The court presided over by Mrs Evelyn Asamoah convicted Sarpong on his own plea.

Sarpong however denied the charge of falsely pretending to be a public officer.

The court therefore adjourned the matter to October 12 and ordered the prosecution to file its disclosures in respect of the charge of falsely pretending to be a public officer.

Mr Muda Ade Lawal, defence counsel in praying for a non-custodial sentence, said Sarpong was a good citizen and IT specialist until the devil pushed him to the vice.

“If given custodial sentence he will be mixed with hardened criminals and will come out worse,” counsel submitted.

According to counsel, the convict was sober and he has regretted his actions hence his admission of guilt.

“Tamper justice with mercy to hand him non-custodial sentence,” he prayed the court.

Defence counsel opined that the convict had a wife and two children and if given custodial sentence, his wife and children would suffer.

Assistance Superintendent of Police (ASP) Evans Kesse told the court that the complainant was George Mireku-Duker, a Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources.

He said sometime in December 2021, the convict contacted a witness in the case to meet so they could talk about a business deal.

The prosecution said the following week, the witness met the convict and told him that the business was about mining and since the witness had been to various mining sites in the country, he could best execute the task.

He said same month, the convict called the witness on phone and told him that the Deputy Minister had authorized that the witness could mobilise his men to operate as such.

The prosecution said the convict then gave a fake MTN number as the Deputy Minister’s contact number, through which he could call when he needed him.

The witness then mobilised his men and went to Obuasi, met the police and called the MTN number accused gave to him as the Deputy Minister’s number.

Prosecution said the convict, who responded as the said Deputy Minister, told the Obuasi Divisional Commander to offer the team any assistance it needed.

The prosecutor said the witness after their operations realised over GH¢200,000 and sent same to the convict who had impersonated the Deputy Minister.

ASP Kesse said the witness after operating at Obuasi decided to proceed to Manso Nkwanta for another operation and met the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), where the witness told the MCE about his mission there and tried reaching out to the Deputy Minister on the MTN number given to him by the convict but there was no response.

The Manso Nkwanta MCE then alerted the witness that it would be in his own interest to come down to Accra to meet with the Deputy Minister and verify if the Deputy Minister had really sanctioned their task.

On September 13,2022, the witness met with the Deputy Minister and disclosed that he had been working at the mining sites on his authorization.

The prosecution said the Deputy Minister denied knowledge of it and sent for the convict whom after questioning was handed over to the police.

The convict in his investigation caution statement admitted to the offence and indicated that he used part of the money he received from the witness to purchase a black Elantra saloon vehicle and invested part of it into his building located at Amasaman.

Source: GNA

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