A staff of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has been sentenced to 15 months in prison in hard labour.
The convict, Gabriel Gyamerah Sarpong was accused of extorting over GH¢200,000 from illegal miners to aid them carry out illegal mining activities.
Sarpong was arrested on Tuesday [September 13, 2022] on the instruction of the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources in charge of Mines, George Mireku Duker.
The Deputy Minister had disclosed to Graphic Online last Tuesday that Sarpong was handed over to the Ministries Police after he allegedly confessed to extorting the money.
In court today [Friday], Sarpong pleaded guilty when he was arraigned at an Accra Circuit Court.
The court, presided over by Evelyn Asamoah sentenced him accordingly to 15 months in prison in hard labour.
Gabriel Gyamerah Sarpong, pleaded guilty to the charge of defrauding by false pretence when he appeared before the court today (September 16, 2022).
He was therefore convicted on his own plea.
He was charged with two counts of falsely pretending to be a public officer and defrauding by false pretence.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to the count of pretending to be a public officer.
The case has been adjourned to October 12, 2022 for trial to commence for the second charge.
Counsel for the convict, Mudu Ade Lawal, in his plea said the convict was a civil servant and a good citizen who had been diligently working in the ministries but was, however, “pushed by the devil” to commit the act.
He pleaded with the court to show mercy adding that the convict was a young man who had a lot of service to render to the nation if given the chance.
“He is an IT specialist and if given a custodial sentence will mix with hardened criminals which will make him worse off,” he added.
His plea was, however, not taken by the court and was thus sentenced to imprisonment in hard labour.
Sarpong was arrested on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 on the instruction of the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources in charge of Mines, George Mireku Duker, reports Graphic Online’s Timothy Ngnenbe.
The Deputy Minister had disclosed to Graphic Online last Tuesday that Sarpong had been handed over to the Ministries Police after he allegedly confessed to extorting the money.
Giving details on the circumstances surrounding the arrest, Mr Duker told Graphic Online that the suspect had used his name (deputy minister) to extort money from the “galamsey operators” for about a year now, but was picked up upon a tip off.
“He used my name to extort money and represented himself as Mireku Duker.
He even called police officers introducing himself as the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources.
He took documents from some of the people and promised to work on it for them,” Mr Duker added.
Asked how long Mr Sarpong had been engaged in that act, Mr Duker said” he has been doing this for the past one year, but his cup is full now.”
“People use our names to defraud others and this case will be used to serve as a deterrent to others who think they can hide behind the Ministry and be aiding illegal mining activities,” he stressed.
Mr Duker said the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources would go all length to ensure that the suspect faced the law.
“I have been going around and appealing to people to help protect our water bodies and I will not allow this to happen. He will be put before court tomorrow,” he said.
Source: Graphic online