Is Prof Frimpong-Boateng being Persecuted for Exposing Political Galamseyers?

Feature Article Is Prof Frimpong-Boateng being Persecuted for Exposing Political Galamseyers?

Last Wednesday, I saw a post on our Perscoba Senior Citizens’ WhatsApp Political Platform that Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng has been arrested, charged and bailed by the Office of Special Prosecutor (OSP). I did not believe the post, so I checked on Ghanaweb but there was no such news report and thought it was one of the usual party-political mischief. Then I saw the same post on our Augusco 1977 Year Group WhatsApp Platform and again, I checked Ghanaweb and lo and behold, the news of the arrest had been reported (see, Prof Frimpong-Boateng granted GH¢2m bail after 'arrest' by OSP”, Ghanaweb, Wednesday June 7, 2023). As the news report did not give much details on the reasons for his arrest except for corruption related matters in the work of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM), I began to pose questions on why he was being treated with almost contempt for his work as Minister for Science and Technology and Chairman of the IMCIM, particularly his report on small scale illegal mining.

This article is an expression of concerns over his treatment and the debate on galamsey in Ghana. Some of you may be aware that this is the second time I am expressing concern over the treatment of Prof Frimpong-Boateng and may begin to question my motive/s. The first was in 2011 when he was sacked as the Honorary Director of National Cardiothoracic Centre at Korle Bu Hospital by the then Minister for Health, my good friend Mr Joseph Yiele Chireh (see, Prof Frimpong-Boateng Sacked”, Ghanaweb, August 26, 2011). I wrote to criticise the contents of the dismissal letter as disrespectful and unacceptable (see, Frimpong-Boateng Episode: What the hell was the minister thinking?”, Ghanaweb, September 1, 2011). My motive if any, is ask for justice, fairness and equity. I do not know Prof Frimpong-Boateng and never met him. I am a boy from Gomoa West District in the Central Region and he is an Asante man from Asante Region. However, I know he deserves better.

For those who do not know, Prof Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng is eminent Ghanaian and world-renowned Cardiothoracic Surgeon, who was practising his profession in Germany and was persuaded by the late president Rawlings to return to Ghana to serve his country. Rawlings went on a state visit to Germany and saw what the professor was doing in Germany. He asked the professor, what would it take for him to return to Ghana to do the same at Korle Bus Teaching Hospital? The professor replied that, he did not want money because Ghana could not pay him but all he wanted was the same environment of no political interference and the necessary equipment and tools to do what he was doing in Germany. Rawlings then gave him the assurance that he will get whatever was needed if he came to Ghana and instructed his ministers and officials, including the late PV Obeng, Kwesi Botchwey and others to make it happen. Thereafter, Prof Frimpong- Boateng retuned to Ghana and established the National Cardiothoracic Centre at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and the rest is history. Ghanaians can testify to his good work at Korle Bu in general, including when he became the Chief Executive of the Ghana’s premier teaching hospital.

Is this the same man we treat with contempt today?

Please do not get me wrong. I am not suggesting that Prof Frimpong-Boateng is above the law and must not be held accountable or if he has committed any crime, he should be treated with kid gloves. No. All I am saying is that he should be treated with respect and fairness.

We now know that the OSP wants Prof Frimpong-Boateng as Chairman of the IMCIM to account for four corruption related matters being investigated as follows:

  • GH¢300 million budgetary allocation to the IMCIM;
  • Number of excavators seized under the operation of the IMCIM;
  • Gold seized during galamsey operations; and
  • Cars and other equipment acquired for the fight against galamsey (see, “the four main reasons the OSP arrested Prof Frimpong-Boateng – Report”, Ghanaweb, June 9, 2023.

I am puzzled by these four questions because as Chairman of the IMCIM he has written a comprehensive report on the committee’s work that gathered dust at the presidency for over a year. Are we saying that these important matters were not addressed in the report and if so, why was he not asked to address them till now? Of course, there is nothing wrong with asking him to account for his stewardship now. However, has he got access to documents at either his ministry or the secretariat of the Committee now that he is no longer a minister and not in government? Could the information not have been obtained by the OSP from the ministry or the secretariat of the IMCIM?

Was it necessary to have arrested him with a GH¢2 million bail? Is he a flight risk and could he not have been cautioned without the arrest, etc? I am posing these questions not because he should be given preferential treatment but because we all know what happened when his report was leaked after it was kept hidden at the presidency for over a year. The president himself dismissed the allegations in the report as mere hearsay. Others have either threatened to sue him for defamation or sued him (see, “Frimpong-Boateng’s Troubles Compound as Capt. Koda Sues For Defamation”, Ghanaweb, June 7, 2023 and “Galamsey report: Gabby sues Prof Frimpong-Boateng, demands GHȼ10m in damages”, Ghanaweb, April 28, 2023).

The question is, why are these people suing Prof Frimpong-Boateng personally and not the state, his ministry or the IMCIM? Prof Frimpong-Boateng was appointed by the president of the Republic but did not act in his personal capacity but on behalf of the state. Therefore, he could not be sued personally, unless the maters being sued were such that no reasonable person could have reached those conclusions such as, he knowingly and deliberately fabricated lies or lied about the individuals in the report. In other words, he was negligent in carrying out his duties. Or did act not in good faith but bad faith. Therefore, the judiciary should not allow these individuals to sue Prof Frimpong- Boateng personally unless they prove that he was negligent and acted in bad faith.

Even if it is proven that he was negligent and acted in bad faith, he should be made the second respondent with the state as the first respondent because he was a servant of the state at the time he wrote the report. For this same reason, the state should either represent him or pay his legal cost and not left to bear the cost himself.

It appears to me that Prof Frimpong-Boateng has stepped on the toes of the powers that be in Ghana in the fight against galamsey and he is being taught a lesson. That is not strange in Ghana because when you fight corruption in Ghana, corruption will come after you. It happened to Daniel Domelevo, Anas and now Prof Frimpong-Boateng. He would not be the last.

The fight against galamsey must be of great concern to all Ghanaians because it’s an existential threat to Ghanaians and Ghana. Alarm has been raised about birth deformities and diseases in galamsey areas of Ghana. This is just the genesis because in a decade’s time it could affect the whole of Ghana as the food and water Ghanaians consume may be coming from a galamsey area. Ghana stands at risk of its agricultural produce such as cocoa, yam and others being banned from export because of land pollution from galamsey activities.

In conclusion, it is my view that Prof Frimpong-Boateng is a patriotic Ghanaian, a hero who has devoted his services and life to Ghana and therefore deserves better. He should be commended for his report on galamsey and not a scape goat to be victimised and persecuted for exposing the rot and the involvement of leading figures in the destruction and pollution of forests, cocoa, farmlands water bodies and the environment. I therefore recommend that the state should represent him in all the suits against him and pay for his legal cost in all matters relating to the report he wrote as Chairman of the IMCIM. Prof Frimpong-Boateng is a hero and not a villain.

Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK