Posted: Wednesday 21st May 2014 at 15:00 pm

Minister Hot Over ‘Oil Deals’

6880160747280 773928 Minister Hot Over ‘Oil Deals’Energy and Petroleum Minister, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, appears to be having a hell of time exonerating himself from any wrongdoing in the infamous forged-signature scandal that has rocked his Ministry.

He has taken the battle over his forged signature to Miura Petroleum Company, calling the company a ‘criminal entity.’

Miura has already rubbished the claim that one of its staff was arrested in connection with the forged signature of the Energy Minister.

Yesterday, Kofi Buah invited journalists to a hurriedly organised press conference in a bid to save his face from the controversy which has provoked more questions than answers, describing the Miura Petroleum – the entity at the centre of the raging storm – as a ‘419 company’.

Kofi Buah, who claimed that his signature was forged in a dubious oil bloc transaction, asserted that Miura Petroleum, which happened to be the local partners of the Canadian company – Gondwana Oil Corporation – “is a criminal entity seeking to use forged documents to misinform its anxious shareholders”

This, he said, was due to the fact that his ministry had never considered the option of allocating an oil bloc offshore the south of the Cape Three Points in the Western Region to either Miura Petroleum or its sister company, Gondwana Oil Corporation.

Twists And Turns

Even though he admitted that Miura Petroleum applied to the ministry for a particular bloc for oil exploration sometime in December 2013, the minister, who has come under pressure of late, indicated that the application was turned down because 10 other companies had applied for the same bloc with six having been shortlisted pending further approval by the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and Cabinet, before final ratification by Parliament.

Mr. Armah Kofi Buah said what drew him and the ministry’s attention to the forged signature was the date on the letter Miura Petroleum presented to his outfit upon invitation for consideration of other blocs.

“We realized the letter Miura Petroleum presented to the Ministry was dated October 2013 with my signature while we started dealing with them in December 2013,” he underscored.

In view of this, the Energy Minister said they became curious about the inconsistency and proceeded to inform the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) which took up the matter.

EOCO later arrested a certain Charles Andoh who is said to have jumped bail in relation to the alleged forgery of the signature.

But Miura said it did not know the said Charles Andoh who has been identified as Arafat, a Nima resident from the Northern Region. Arafat has been on the run since police granted him bail.

Contradiction

Interestingly, Miura Petroleum has denied claims that one of the company’s directors had been arrested for purportedly forging the Energy Minister’s signature.

In a statement issued over the weekend and signed by David Brown, the company’s head of legal team, he noted with emphasis, “No director of Miura Petroleum has been arrested or accused of any wrongdoing.”

The company is accused of having made an estimated $1.5 million using the forged letter as a basis to sell off majority stake in the oil rich area to its parent company – Gondwana Oil Corporation in Canada – an allegation it has denied.

An Accra Circuit Court is already hearing a case of forgery brought against Charles Andoh, whom the prosecution claims to be the man who allegedly forged the Minister’s signature and suspected to be the staff of Miura Petroleum.

The court had ordered one Tonya Abela and another – the men who stood as sureties for Charles Andoh – to produce the accused person before May 28.

Police said since Andoh was given bail on April 17, 2014, he had never reported to them, even though he was asked to do so daily.

The suspect, upon his arrest, was detained for two days and granted bail in the sum of GH¢10,000 with two sureties.

Issues

The Executive Director of Africa Centre for Energy Policy, Amin Adam, has indeed raised questions about claims of the Minister’s signature having been forged, believing there could be more to it than what Ghanaians were being told.

He has therefore stressed the need for President Mahama to set up a high level committee to unravel the mystery behind the forgery.

“Unless we have a high level investigation and the result reported to the world, Ghana’s oil and gas industry is at risk…when people go away with that letter, they are not going to talk good about our country. Therefore the desire to develop our oil and gas industry is going to face serious challenges,” he noted in a recent interview on Accra-based Joy FM.

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