The Environmental Investigative Agency (EIA) says it is ready to provide to the special prosecutor evidence that corruption has continued to fuel illegal rosewood trade in Ghana despite a government ban.
The Washington DC-based agency’s Africa Programme Campaigner Kidan Araya says they will be able to provide additional video, audio and photographic evidence to the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, to aid investigation efforts if requested by the office.
She says it will be important for the Office of the Special Prosecutor to investigate the issue in the light of denials that have come up.
Last month, the EIA published a report in which it claimed the Forestry Commission is still issuing permits to members of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) to export rosewood despite a 2012 ban which has recently been re-enforced by the Lands and Natural Resources Minister Kwaku Asomah Kyeremeh on March 12, 2019.
The report claims undercover investigators discovered that powerful Chinese and Ghanaian traffickers are still harvesting and shipping rosewood out of the country through “the help of ruling party members and complicity at all levels of government.”
It said they have established an institutionalized scheme, fueled by bribes, to mask the illegal harvest, transport, export, and CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species]- licensing of the timber.
The 16-page report titled: “Ban-Boozled: How corruption and collusion fuel illegal rosewood trade in Ghana” cited former head of the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission Nana Adu Nsiah as one of the people who received percentages of the sale to allow for the illegal export of rosewood.
Builsa South Member of Parliament Dr Clement Apaak has since petitioned the Office of Special Prosecutor demanding the prosecution of members of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Forestry Commission officials cited in the EIA report.
He also attached a video from the organization and a Joy News documentary, Killing Our Roses, as additional evidence.
The Forestry Commission in a statement denied the claim that its officials have been taking bribe.
According to the statement, Nana Kofi Adu-Nsiah who was cited in the report has denied any wrongdoing.
“Nana Kofi Adu-Nsiah has thrown a challenge to anyone who has proof of his involvement in any illegalities to come forward and prove that,” Public Relations Officer of Forestry Commission, Joyce Ofori Kwafo, indicated in the statement.
Kidan Araya of EIA says they stand by their claims and they have more than enough evidence to back it.
“Our evidence consists of firsthand accounts on the ground of traffickers describing the high level of collusion and corruption in the illegal rosewood trade in Ghana, analysis of trade data available from Ghana and China, as well as a picture of a CITES permit signed in May 2019 by Mr. Nana - two months after Ghana installed its 5th ban on rosewood,” she said.
She says they have footage of multiple traffickers naming forestry commission officials for helping them to gain entry into the illegal rosewood trade.
“Some traffickers like the one featured in our video, go more in-depth into how this personal connection to Mr Nana allowed them to trade rosewood, while other traffickers state they paid a bribe in order to trade rosewood without a problem,” Kidan Araya added.