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CHRAJ asked to freeze gov’t account over scandals on Upper East Regional Minister

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General News of Monday, 16 January 2023

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Source: starrfm.com.gh

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has been petitioned to freeze a government bank account that belongs to the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council over some scandals investigative journalist Edward Adeti is said to have uncovered on the Upper East Regional Minister Stephen Yakubu.

The petition, which was filed by the Development Research and Advocacy Centre (DRAC) on 6th January 2023 and copied to President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo, asked CHRAJ to investigate the Regional Minister.

One of the scandals, which is highlighted in the petition, has the Regional Minister and the Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission Mr. Martin Ayisi allegedly demanding furniture from some small-scale miners on behalf of government. The small-scale miners were made to buy the furniture from the compensation the small-scale miners received from a Chinese mining company, Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited.

In another scandal brought to light in the petition, the Regional Minister is said to have aided a miner, Robert Boazor Tampoare, who belongs to a mining group in the region to defraud the other members of the group to the tune of 150,000 United States dollars.

It is also mentioned in the petition that the Regional Minister used a bank account that belongs to government to disburse compensation funds to several mining companies believed to be fake as their whereabouts and owners are unknown.

The petition also revealed how the Regional Minister reportedly negotiated a deal with a Chinese company on behalf of an executive member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and CEO of Yenyeya Mining Enterprise, Charles Taleog Ndanbon, without the consent of the CEO.

Below is a copy of the full petition

Development Research Advocacy Centre,

Post Office Box 313,

Bolgatanga; UER;

6th January, 2023.

The Commissioner,

Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ),

Old Parliament House,

Box AC 489,

High Street Accra.

GPS: GA-184-6440.

Dear Sir,

PETITION AGAINST HONOURABLE STEPHEN YAKUBU, UPPER EAST REGIONAL MINISTER, ALIAS AKURUGU ON ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE OF OFFICE, DEFRAUDING, ABETMENT OF CRIMES AND FALSE REPRESENTATION AND ACTIVITIES OF EARL INTERNATIONAL GROUP GHANA GOLD LIMITED FORMERLY KNOWN AS SHAANXI MINING COMPANY LIMITED.

The Development Research and Advocacy Centre (DRAC) wishes to bring to your notice alleged infractions involving the Upper East Regional Minister, Hon. Stephen Yakubu, alias Akurugu. His actions are disturbing and threatening to small-scale/large-scale gold mining businesses in the region, especially in Talensi District. We also wish to bring to your notice disturbing acts of infractions committed by Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited against the Minerals and Mining Act of Ghana (Act 730), the Minerals and Mining (Compensation and Resettlement) Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2175), and the right to safe environment among others, and request that you investigate these matters. Below are the cases in point for your attention and investigations:

ABUSE OF OFFICE: The Honourable Regional Minister Stephen Yakubu has allegedly turned his office into a business centre where mining company transactions are being done day in day out. We recall that in the year 2021 a company called Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited, formerly known as Shaanxi Mining Company Limited and owned by Chinese expatriates, acquired a large-scale gold mining concession of about 16.2 square kilometres in the Talensi District. More than 20 already-existing small-scale mining concessions fall within the 16.2 square kilometres demarcated for the Chinese company. Per the rules of mining, Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited was advised by the Minerals Commission to pay compensation to small-scale mining companies, enterprises and groups whose concessions fall within the 16.2 square kilometres acquired by the Chinese company. These concessions were put into categories: (1) concession applicants, (2) concession inactive-license holders and (3) concession active-license holders. These concessionaires were to be paid compensation for the takeover of their concessions. When they were about to receive their compensation, the Regional Minister interfered to get the lump sum of the compensation paid into the bank account of the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council GCB 9011130014513. He intended using the government account number to pay the various concessionaires including non-existent mining companies.

Interestingly, the Regional Minister went ahead to pay some selected concessionaires through the same account although some small-scale concessionaires refused to collect the money because they were not happy about the way the Regional Minister and the Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited reached agreement for the compensation packages and the mode of payment. Notable among the concessionaires who refused to collect the money is Charles Taleog Ndanbon who owns Yenyeya Mining Enterprise.

After paying the compensation to the small-scale miners from the account owned by the state, the Regional Minister allegedly arm-twisted the small-scale miners to furnish the conference hall of the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council with chairs from the compensation received. The small-scale miners were made to pay amounts between Gh¢4,000 and Gh¢9,000 to purchase the chairs for government. This comes across as an abuse of office by the Regional Minister.

Although the Regional Minister alleges that it was the CEO of the Minerals Commission, Mr. Martin Ayisi, who asked the small-scale miners for the chairs on behalf of the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council as part of their corporate social responsibility, the CEO of the Minerals Commission has refuted the allegation made by the Regional Minister. Our search from a seasoned investigative journalist Edward Adeti whom we reported the matter to and has more evidence on the matter, shows that the Regional Minister lied and has abused his office.

DEFRAUDING: Sir, we humbly plead with your outfit to thoroughly investigate Hon. Stephen Yakubu on the matter of defrauding members of the Unique Mining Group, a licensed small-scale mining group in the Talensi District. This group had issues with the Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited over trespass and other matters and such Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited decided to pay the Unique Mining Group 150,000 United States dollars to settle the impasse between them so they could mine peacefully in the vicinity. It is alleged that Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited paid 150,000 US dollars to the Regional Minister for onward delivery to the Unique Mining Group. Our search adduced the fact that the Paramount Chief of Talensi, His Royal Highness, Kugbilsong Nanlebegtang is a witness to the payment of the money by Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited to the Regional Minister for onward delivery to the Unique Mining Group. But the Regional Minister paid the 150,000 US dollars into the bank account of the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council. The Regional Minister subsequently ordered the accounts department of the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council led by the accountant, Alhaji Saibu Mutawachilu, to issue a cheque for the said amount to the Unique Mining Group payable to the personal account of one Robert Boazor Tampoare, chairman of a small-scale miners’ association who is also a member of the Unique Mining Group.

Robert Boazor Tampoare allegedly deposited the 150, 000 US dollars in cheque to Zenith Bank Bolgatanga Branch and later shared the booty. He did not deliver the money to the Unique Mining Group as expected. This has generated protests and chaos among the members of the group. This, we suspect, is a case of the Regional Minister conniving with Mr. Robert Boazor Tampoare to defraud the other members of the Unique Mining Group.

ABETMENT OF CRIMES: Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited, a large-scale mining company, in its quest to mine as a large-scale firm in the midst of small-scale miners in the Talensi District, decided to pay 1 million United States dollars to compensate small-scale miners whose concessions would be taken over by the Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited. Again, the Regional Minister Hon. Stephen Yakubu, wooed the Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited to pay the 1 million US dollars through him (the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council) for onward disbursement to identified small-scale miners. The money was paid through the bank account of the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council GCB 9011130014513 in the year 2021. The Regional Minister, Hon. Stephen Yakubu alias Akurugu, had in his possession a cadaster ma indicating some concessions on the area of Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited formerly known as Shaanxi Mining Company Limited numbering 38. Out of these 38 identified small-scale mining concessions on the cadaster map, 17 of them are not known to the popular concessionaires and the indigenes of the mining community and, therefore, are termed as fake or non-existent mining companies. But these fake companies are allegedly put on the cadaster map for the Regional Minister to find ways and means to claim the moneys meant for the non-existent mining companies or enterprises.

The cadastre map used by the Regional Minister to pay the small-scale miners is a material produced from the Minerals Commission dated Thursday December 24 2020 with time captured as 11.45 am. There is no official search on the map. The map does not indicate the name of official who was authorized to prepare it. The map is also not endorsed by the Minerals Commission as is officially the case. We think the Regional Minister has abetted with some officials of the Minerals Commission to use state institutions i.e. the Minerals Commission and the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council to justify the wrongdoing in all his deals with the Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited.

Most of the concessionaires mentioned on the cadastre map cannot be traced at the Registrar General’s Department. The directors of these concessions cannot be identified and they cannot be traced. Some concessions, which are also known to have been taken over by Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited, were not listed on the cadastre map, namely Batrim Bokre Enterprise and Mpeligiba Enterprise. Our checks show that owners of these concessions have been compensated from the money originally meant for the 38 mining companies mentioned on the cadastre map. We believe that the money used for compensating these two concessions, which were not captured on the fraudulent cadastre map, was taken from the money purposely reserved for the 17 ghost names on the fraudulent cadastre map. We are of the strong belief that if the Regional Minister has not withdrawn the money yet, the money should be sitting in the bank account of the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council and, therefore, ask that CHRAJ takes step to freeze the account to avoid the Regional Minister accessing the account to withdraw the money in the name of non-existent concessionaires.

Hon. Thomas Pearson Wuni Duanab, who is the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Talensi called a meeting of all small-scale mining enterprises in Talensi on 7th October 2022. The meeting took place in the office of the DCE. The DCE had in his hands the unauthorised cadastre list map. While mentioning the names of the concessions on the cadastre map in the meeting, the members present responded “ghosts” at the mention of the 17 unidentified mining concessions. The DCE is also attempting to play the games of the Regional Minister around the small-scale miners by asking them to open an escrow account with the Talensi District Assembly to enable them receive their royalties from Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited through the Talensi District Assembly. We think this is inappropriate and must be investigated.

FALSE REPRESENTATION: It is alleged that the Regional Minister has turned himself into an intermediary bidding for agreements on behalf of aggrieved license-holding small-scale miners in the region. Notable among such small-scale miners is Mr. Charles Taleog Ndanbon who is the current Upper East Regional Organiser of the ruling party (NPP). The Regional Minister has negotiated for not less than three agreements with Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited on behalf of a business owned by Mr. Ndanbon, which is Yenyeya Mining Enterprise, without the consent and presence of Mr. Ndanbon. In our attempts to find out from the Regional Minister under whose authority the Regional Minister was doing the negotiations, he replied by saying that the manager of Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited, one Mr. Wie Xing, had told him he would not like to meet Charles Ndanbon the CEO of Yenyeya Mining Enterprise and he (the Regional Minister) decided to negotiate on his behalf. And when asked whether he had the consent of the CEO of Yenyeya Mining Enterprise, he said yes. But Hon. Charles Taleog Ndanbon, the Regional Organiser of the NPP and also a businessman, refuted the allegation and challenged the Regional Minister to provide any proof of he consenting to him to negotiate with on his behalf. Furthermore, our search indicates that the Regional Minister had taken 150, 000 US dollars from Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited to be paid to Charles Ndanbon (the CEO of Yenyeya Mining Enterprise) and one other person.

Under the bizarre circumstances, Charles Taleog Ndanbon has refused to collect the money from the Regional Minister and has ordered the Regional Minister to pay the money back to where he got it. By this piece of evidence, there is no doubt that the Regional Minister has falsely represented Charles Taleog Ndanbon for his selfish gains.

CONCLUSION

It is our considered belief that you will deploy the powers of your esteemed office to investigate these matters and establish the truth thereof. We would reiterate our call also that the bank account of the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council be frozen so that nobody tampers with the account.

Attached are the sources you can contact for your investigations:

Stephen Yakubu, Upper East Regional Minister― On all matters stated. Matthew Tindanzie, a small-scale miner― on the matters of abuse of office and defrauding. Abdulai Amaligo, a small-scale miner ― on the matters of abuse of office and defrauding. Charles Taleog Ndanbon, CEO of Yenyeya Mining Enterprise― on the matters of false representation and abetment of crimes. Edward Adeti, an investigative journalist, Upper East Region― on all matters stated. Zumah T.B. Yaro, an indigene from the mining community and applicant of a mining licence― on all matters stated. Martin Ayisi, CEO of Minerals Commission― on all matters stated. Dickson Achindiba, District Officer, Minerals Commission Bolgatanga― on all matters stated. Robert Boazor Tampaore, a miner and member of the Unique Mining Group― on abuse of office, defrauding and abetment of crimes. Thomas Pearson Wuni Duanab, DCE for Talensi― on the matter of abetment of crimes. Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited Audio-visual pieces of evidence can be sourced from Edward Adeti (the investigative journalist mentioned above) on all the matters stated.

Thank you for your cooperation. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Humbly submitted.

………………………………….

Milton Aberinga

Director of Programmes

0549494083

CC:

The President of the Republic of Ghana,

Jubilee House,

Accra.

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