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IMCIM probe: I am not a fugitive, says Charles Bissue

The OSP has declared the former secretary of the IMCIM wanted. The move comes days after the Special Prosecutor secured an order from the court to arrest Bissue

Charles Bissue, the former executive secretary of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) has refuted claims suggesting that he has gone into hiding to avoid being probed by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP).

The OSP has declared the former secretary of the IMCIM wanted. The move comes days after the Special Prosecutor secured an order from the court to arrest Bissue.

In a tweet on Tuesday (13 June), the OSP said: “Charles Cromwell Nanabayin Onuawonto Bissue is wanted by the #OSP on Corruption and corruption-related offences regarding the activities and expenditure of the dissolved Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM)

Non fugitive

Appearing on the Asaase Breakfast Show on Wednesday (14 June), Bissue said he will honour the invitation of the OSP at the appropriate time.

“I heard it on social media, so basically I didn’t think it will get to this,” Bissue said. “So, basically I was surprised. I am not a fugitive, I am in Ghana.”

“I have not been charged with anything; the Special Prosecutor invited me for an interview a few weeks ago and then I wasn’t well, so my lawyers wrote to his office to explain that they actually give me a week…

“Then they got back to say that they will not allow the one week so I should appear in a day or two. So, it was left to that… and later I heard that there has been an arrest warrant,” Bissue said.

Listen to Charles Bissue in the attached audio clip below:

Court

Bissue went to court to stop the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) from investigating him over certain allegations of corruption relating to illegal mining (galamsey).

In a writ filed on 4 January this year at the Accra High Court, Bissue is of the contention that the police have already investigated and exonerated him of any wrongdoing.

It is, therefore, his case that the OSP does not have the powers to review the investigations of the police or investigate him when the police have already investigated and found no adverse findings against him.

“The plaintiff contends that the first defendant does not have the power to investigate a matter that has already been investigated by the police,” the statement of claim stated.

The suit is against the OSP, private investigator, Anas Aremyaw Anas and his private investigative company, Tiger Eye P.I that broadcasted a video which accused Bissue of allegedly engaging in corruption during his tenure as Secretary to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM).

Reliefs

The plaintiff is seeking a declaration from the court that upon a true interpretation of the OSP Act, 2017 (Act 959), the OSP does not have the power to review an investigation done by the police.

Again, he is seeking a declaration that the powers granted the OSP under Act 959 does not allow the anti-graft body to investigate and prosecute him when the subject matter had already been investigated by the police.

Bissue also wants the court to declare that the OSP cannot investigate him without investigating Anas and Tiger Eye P.I.

The plaintiff is further seeking an order perpetually restraining the OSP from investigating him about the same issue investigated by the police, unless the police refers the matter to the OSP.

Investigations

The OSP, in December last year, announced that it was investigating indigenous mining firm, Akonta Mining Limited, Bissue, some officials of the Lands Commission, Forestry Commission, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, some mining entities, individuals and political party officials over suspected corruption relating to illegal mining.

A statement signed by the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, and issued in Accra on 10 December last year, said Bissue was already being investigated on allegations that he used his office for private gain.

“The investigation includes the active and ongoing enquiry into allegations of use of public office for profit against Charles Bissue during his tenure as Secretary to the IMCIM, arising from an investigative documentary titled ‘Galamsey Fraud Part I’ published by Tiger Eye P.I.,” the statement said.

Allegation

In February 2019, a documentary produced by the private investigator, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, and his Tiger Eye team, Bissue was seen allegedly taking money to help an unlicensed company to circumvent laid down processes to be given clearance for its mining operations.

The documentary alleged that the secretary was involved in alleged shady deals to facilitate processes for ORR Resource Enterprise.

The undercover investigator allegedly captured people tasked with fighting the galamsey menace receiving various sums of money, ostensibly to facilitate the acquisition of mining licences.

Rebuttal

Bissue, however, rebutted the Tiger Eye allegation. “As I have said countless times that money was not a bribe and I did not make any demands whatsoever from any operative or beneficiary of illegal mining while I served on the IMCIM,” he said in a statement.

Exoneration

In July 2019, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service exonerated Mr Bissue from any wrongdoing or allegation of corruption.

The CID concluded that the documentary which was aired was not a true reflection of what transpired between Bissue and one Yaw Ben of ORR Resource Enterprise.

“The CID investigations primarily relied on the documentary and other sources, as already indicated, but the lead investigator of the Tiger Eye documentary, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, failed to avail himself to assist in investigations and also failed to provide a copy of the unedited version of the documentary,” the CID report said

 

Reporting by Fred Dzakpata in Accra

 

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