A staff of Ghana’s Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Gabriel Gyamara Sarpong, has been jailed for extorting over Ghc 200,000 from some illegal miners also known as galamseyers.
It would be recalled that www.africanentertainment.com broke the story earlier this week about how Sarpong, an Information Technology Specialist with the Ministry had been arrested by police on the instruction of the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, George Mireku Duker. He placed in custody at the Ministries Police Station following his arrest.
Sarpong was accused of impersonating Mr. Duker to extort over Ghc 200,000 from illegal miners. A tip off by an accomplice led to his arrest on Tuesday, September 13, 2022.
In court on Friday, September 16, Mr. Sarpong was slapped with two charges namely: falsely pretending to be a public officer and defrauding by false pretences.
He denied the first charge but pleaded guilty to the second charge which is defrauding by false pretences, leaving his lawyers virtually surprised.
As a result, he was convicted on his own plea.
After pleading guilty, his lawyers led by Muda Ade Lawal by way of mitigation prayed the court to hand him a non-custodial sentence. Lawyer Ade Lawal while praying for mitigation told the court that his client diligently served until this time when “the devil pushed him.”
“He is a young man who has a lot to offer his country. We pray for non-custodial sentence. If given custodial sentence, he will be mixed with hardened criminals and he will come out worse,” lawyer Ade added.
However, the prosecution led by Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Evans Kesse on its part, noted that the accused is not known to the law and leaves the sentencing in the hands of the court.
The court presided over by Her Honour Evelyn Asamoah prior to her sentence indicated, the nature of the punishment must commensurates with the offence.
She consequently sentenced Sarpong to 15 months in jail in hard labour on count two which is defrauding by false pretences.
Meanwhile, the judge after sentencing Sarpong, directed the prosecution to file disclosures by October 5, this year in respect of the first count which he denied. The case was subsequently adjourned to October 12, 2022.
Facts of the matter
The brief facts of the case as presented to the court by the prosecutor ASP Kesse were that the Complainant is George Mireku Duker, the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Accra.
The accused person Gabriel Gyamara Sarpong, ASP Kesse observed, is a Civil Servant with the same ministry and lives at Amasaman.
According to the prosecutor, sometime in December 2021, the accused, Gabriel Gyamara Sarpong contacted a witness in the case to meet so they could talk about a business deal.
ASP Kesse told the court that the following week, the witness met the accused and the accused told him that the business was about mining and since the witness has been to various mining sites in the country, he could best execute the task the same month.
The prosecutor further stated that Sarpong 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.
Fake Minister’s contact
According to the prosecutor, the accused person then gave a fake MTN number 0244916900 as the Deputy Minister’s contact number through which he could call when he needed him.
The prosecutor says 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 for the said Minister to communicate with the Police for confirmation.
ASP Kesse stated that the accused who responded to the call as though he was the said Minister told the Obuasi Divisional Commander to accord the team any assistance needed.
According to the prosecutor, “The witness after their operations realized cash over GHc200k and sent same to the accused who had impersonated as the Deputy Minister.”
He noted “The witness after operating at Obuasi decided to proceed to Manso Nkwanta for another operation and met the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) and told the MCE about his mission there and tried reaching out to the Deputy Minister on the MTN number given to him by the accused but there was no response.”
The prosecutor noted that the Manso Nkwanta MCE then alerted the Witness that, it will be in his own interest fo come down to Accra to meet with the Deputy Minister and verify if the Deputy Minister had really sanctioned their task.
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