Forged letter controversy: Energy Ministry press release vanishes but pops up later
Myjoyonline.com can confirm that an important press release which went missing from the Energy Ministry’s website has found its way back minutes after a Joy News report, Tuesday.
The press release dated April 10, 2014 and signed by the Communications Consultant to the Energy Ministry, Edward Bawa, stated among other things that Miura Petroleum Limited, a subsidiary company of Canadian oil Firm, Godwana, had forged the signature of Ghana’s Energy Minister to lay claim to an oil block in the Western Region which it didn’t own.
Reports early on suggested Gondwana Oil Corporation recently used the forged letter to support its listing on the Canadian Stock Exchange.
Its Ghanaian subsidiary, Miura Petroleum Limited was also reported to have made an estimated 1.5 million dollars using the forged letter as a basis to sell off majority stake in the oil rich area.
When the story broke, the Energy Ministry issued the April 10, 2014 press release and published same on its website. The release was the basis for an investigation by the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO). One suspect was arrested for the forgery.
Whilst the EOCO investigations continued in Ghana with assurances by the Energy Ministry that it was committed to unravelling the mystery behind the forged letter, Gondwana was telling a different story to its stakeholders in Canada and elsewhere.
Investigations conducted by Joy News’ Evans Mensah indicated that Gondwana issued a statement to its shareholders on April 29, 2014.
Part of the statement read: “Gondwana is pleased to report that following constructive and cooperative discussions with the Ministry earlier this week, the Ministry has removed the Announcement from its website. Gondwana continues to work cooperatively with Miura and the Ministry with respect to Miura’s application, and anticipates further confirmations from the Ministry on a going forward basis regarding the overall status of such application. Further details will be announced as soon as possible.” The full statement is on http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1346093/gondwana-announcement
Whether by design or coincidence, the press release on the Energy Ministry’s website had been removed, a situation which Evans Mensah found curious.
He therefore called the Communications Consultant to the ministry for explanation.
Edward Bawa was emphatic that as the head of communications of the Ministry he had to give an explicit order before a press release can be published or taken down.
Under no circumstance can a press release be taken down without his express authorisation, he indicated.
When Evans Mensah asked if it was possible that the release may have been removed on the orders of somebody above, he stated, that person would still have to inform him before taking off the press release.
In his vehement defence, Myjoyonline.com visited the website and noticed the famous forged-letter-press-release had been taken down.
Edward Bawa however promised to check the website after the interview and make the necessary updates if it was the case that the press release had indeed been taken down.
True to his promise the press release found its way back on the website, barely 30 minutes after the interview.
It is not clear yet who removed the press release or who ordered its removal; when it was removed and whether or not the removal was an accident or had anything to do with the statement issued by Gondwana to its shareholders that they had “constructive and cooperative discussions” with the ministry to remove the press release.
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