Anti-corruption crusader, Vitus Azeem, has advised Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, to distance himself from investigations on Charles Bissue’s alleged involvement in illegal small-scale mining activities (galamsey).
According to him, this will be in the best interest of the case after it emerged that Kissi Agyebeng was one of the lawyers for Anas’ Tiger Eye P.I – the agency which did the ‘galamsey fraud’ documentary which captured Charles Bissue receiving bribes when he served as secretary to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM).
Speaking to Accra-based Starr FM, Vitus Azeem said Kissi Agyebeng can cede the investigations to his deputies in order to avoid or reduce the conflict-of-interest situation he now finds himself.
“There is an issue there but then again you can say Kissi Agyebeng is not the Office of Special Prosecutor. He is the Special Prosecutor but he works with people. There is a deputy Special Prosecutor and other people, so what he can do is not to take up the matter himself personally but the office should be able to take up the matter,” he said.
“It is a risk that he might be tempted to be biased or tempted to influence the investigation in a certain direction but once his attention has been drawn to it, that should make him to distance himself from the main investigation of the matter and leave it to his subordinates to do the work.
“One thing about conflict of interest is, when you are aware of it you take steps to avoid it or minimize it such that it does not influence or affect whatever decisions that are going to be taken in connection with the matter.
“I believe that the best thing is for him to come and open up and say no he is not going to be part of the investigation, he should stay away because of this relationship,” Vitus Azeem added.
Kissi Agyebeng in a statement under his hand said the Office of the Special Prosecutor has launched investigations into suspected corruption and corruption-related offences in galamsey related matters.
According to him, the investigation targets some officials at the Lands and Ministry as well as the dissolved Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining.
“The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) has commenced an investigation into suspected corruption and corruption-related offences in respect of illegal small-scale mining. The investigation targets some officials of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Forestry Commission.
“It also targets the activities and expenditure of the dissolved Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM), especially in respect of the seizure and management of excavators, machinery, road vehicles, and gold nuggets,” part of the statement issued on October 10 read.
According to the OSP, the investigation also targets some individuals and private companies including the secretary of the IMCIM, Charles Bissue and Akonta Mining Company Limited belonging to the New Patriotic Party’s Ashanti Regional Chairman, Bernard Antwi Boasiako alias Wontumi.
“The investigation includes the active and ongoing inquiry into allegations of use of public office for profit against Charles Bissue, during his tenure as Secretary to the IMCIM, arising from an investigative documentary titled; ‘Galamsey Fraud Part I’, published by Tiger Eye P.I.
“The investigation further targets the activities of Akonta Mining Limited and other companies; nationals of foreign countries allegedly involved in illegal mining; and allegations of corruption and corruption-related offences against some Municipal and District Chief Executives and political party officials,” the statement said.
Charles Bissue who was caught on tape receiving a bribe in the exposé has consistently denied wrongdoing.
Speaking to Accra-based Citi FM in 2021, Charles Bissue said he was set up by members of the Tiger Eye P.I
He insists the money he was caught on video receiving was a donation from Chairman Wontumi to the party.
“There was nothing like corruption. Somebody manufactured it because he wanted to go into illegal mining, which I stopped,” he said.
He was cleared of all charges of corruption by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service in 2019 but Anas Aremeyaw Anas says the report was a “white-washing antic with no credibility” and had no input from Tiger Eye PI during the investigation.
Following rigorous investigations, the CID came to the conclusion in a final report that Mr. Bissue did not violate the IMCIM’s established protocols in order to favour ORR Resource Enterprise, the organisation at the centre of the incident.
Ghana has been waging war on the activities of illegal miners, however, it is widely believed that the fight has not yielded the desired results.
The discoloured nature of water bodies as well as general environmental degradation has been used as a testament to the failed fight.
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