Former ‘Regional Minister’ arrested in Goaso

A 28-year-old man who used the identity of a former Brong Ahafo Regional Minister in an attempt to secure the release of a seized truckload of illegal lumber has been arrested.

A joint Police-Military team intercepted the truck at Goaso on April 16 and sent to the District Forestry Office.

Suspect Dennis Ofosuhene was said to have phoned the District Forest Manager the next day claiming to be the former regional Minister Eric Opoku, and instructed that the truck is released to the owner.

The Manager, Godfred Quashigah, who became suspicious, played along and asked that the owner come to the District Forestry office for discussion and subsequent release of the truck to him.

Ofosuhene was said to have later showed up at the office on April 17 as the owner.

“Around 4:15pm, a young gentleman entered my office and [that] he was here in connection with the arrested vehicle of which I was being spoken to by the alleged minister.

“After our interrogation I was able to identify his name as Dennis Ofosuhene and on my phone, also I managed to track his name which corresponded to what he mentioned to me,” Mr Quashigah told TV3.

Mr. Godfred Quahsigah

The manager said he consequently invited his two deputies and the Police CID assigned to the Forestry Office and met the man again.

“Through questioning he [Ofosuhene] came out and said he spoke to me the district manager and posed as the former regional minister Eric Opoku,” the manager said.

He said since it was a case of impersonation and deceiving public officer Ofosuhene arrested and handed over to the Police the Police for investigations for possible prosecution.

According to the District Forest Manager, the practice of people intervening for intercepted illegal timber products to be released in the area was rampant.

“As soon as you arrest someone then you receive a call indicating that the person is either a politician, a chief or someone from the jubilee house,” he said.

Chainsaw operations booming

Meanwhile, more than 130 chainsaw machines have been seized in the past months pending court order to destroy them.

Some of the seized chainsaw machines

The seizure of the chainsaw machines followed a special operation carried out by a joint police-military and forestry officials.Chainsaw operation, which has been outlawed to protect the country’s rainforests, has become a lucrative business in the Goaso District forest reserve.

Investigations by TVw revealed chainsaw operators have invaded the forest reserves and cutting down trees in droves for sale at the local market.

The operators usually transport the logs in the night.

The District Manager, Godfred Quashigah, said though their operations are coming down due to constant patrol, there are still pockets chainsaw operations in the forest reserve.

He called for support from everyone including chiefs and people in the forest fringe communities to expose and arrest those engaged in the illegal activity.

By Benjamin Aidoo||Ghana

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