An employee of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Gabriel Gyamera Sarpong, has been sentenced to 15 months imprisonment in hard labour for impersonating the Deputy Minister of the Ministry, George Mireku-Duker, to aid illegal miners.
The convict, according to court documents, had pretended to be acting on behalf of the Deputy Minister and at some point acted as the Deputy Minister and granted people access to mines in Obuasi and other mining areas in the Ashanti Region.
He is said to have taken GH¢200,000 from a witness in the matter and later gave him a number which he claimed to be the Deputy Minister’s, which he (witness) could reach the Deputy Minister on for assistance.
Gabriel Gyamera Sarpong, was charged with one count of falsely pretending to be a public officer to which he pleaded not guilty, and another count of defrauding by false pretences to which he pleaded guilty, and was convicted on his own plea.
His counsel, Musah Ade Lawal, in his plea of mitigation told the court the convict diligently performed his duties until the commission of the crime, which he said: “was the work of the devil.”
He said the convict has a wife and two children, and if given a custodial sentence his wife and children will have problems, adding that the convict is a young man who has a lot to offer his country, and urged the court to give him a non-custodial sentence.
Counsel indicated that the convict if given a custodial sentence, will be mixed with hardened criminals and will come out worse. He added that the convict is sober and regrets his actions.
Her Honour, Evelyn Asamoah, the presiding judge, sentenced him to 15 months imprisonment in hard labour and ordered the prosecution to file their disclosures on the other count of falsely pretending to be a public officer to which the convict pleaded not guilty.
The brief facts presented to the court by ASP Evans Kesse, indicate that the convict sometime in December last year contacted an unnamed witness in the case and presented a mining idea to him, and the witness having an experience in the field agreed to execute the task.
The convict later called the witness on phone and told him that the Deputy Minister had authorised the witness to mobilise his men to operate, and also gave the witness an MTN number on which he could reach the Deputy Minister.
“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. Accused Gabriel Gyamera Sarpong, who responded as the said Deputy Minister, told the Obuasi Divisional Commander to accord the Team any assistance needed.”
It was at this point that the witness released GH¢200,000 to the convict. The brief facts state that the witness after operating at Obuasi decided to proceed to Manso Nkwanta for another operation and met the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) and told him about his mission.
The witness tried reaching the Deputy Minister on the number given to him by the convict but there was no response, so the Manso Nkwanta MCE then urged the witness to go to Accra to meet with the Deputy Minister and verify if he had really sanctioned their task.
The witness met the Deputy Minister on September 13, 2022, and disclosed to him that he had been working at the mining sites on his authorization, but the Deputy Minister denied knowledge of any such authorisation and sent for the convict, who after questioning was handed over to police.
The convict, in his investigation caution statement, admitted to the offence and indicated that he used part of the money he received from the witness to purchase a black Elantra saloon vehicle and also invested part of it into his building located at Amasaman. The vehicle has been retrieved by the police.