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OccupyGhana: Akonta Mining case key test to end ‘galamsey’

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Akonta mining, evidence, Newscenta, intervention, President Akufo-Addo, Lands Ministry,

OccupyGhana, a pressure group, has appealed to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to intervene as it seeks for the prosecution of persons behind the operations of Akonta Mining Limited in the Nimri Tano Forest Reserve in the Amenfi West Municipality of the Western Region.

In an open letter dated October 24, 2022, the Group asked the President to direct the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Minerals Commission to furnish the Police and the Attorney-General with evidence concerning the “illegal” activities of Akonta Mining in the Forest Reserve.

OccupyGhana had earlier written to the Ministry to assist the Police with evidence to facilitate the prosecution of officials behind the operations of the Company.

This was after the Ministry had directed the Forestry Commission to immediately halt the activities of Akonta Mining in the Forest.

The Ministry said in a statement that Akonta Mining had a mining lease to undertake mining operations in some parts of Samreboi, outside the Forest Reserve, but it had no mineral right to undertake any mining operations in the Tano Nimiri Forest Reserve.

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OccupyGhana accused the Ministry of failing to act on its request, hence the decision to invite the President into the matter.

“The Ministry and Commission must have sufficient evidence to back these press statements. That evidence is what the Police and Attorney-General require to launch criminal investigations into the matter, and when satisfied, prosecute that Company and its directors and officers for the requisite offences under the Minerals and Mining Act,” it said.

The Group said the Akonta Mining case “is a key test” to the President’s resolve to end the illegal mining menace.

“…Just like the Aisha Huang matter, it is a key test of your resolve to end illegal mining. If that Company is not engaged in illegal mining, the police investigations will absolve them. If, however, it is engaged in illegal mining, then the police will take the requisite steps,” it said.

The letter added: “We want to see the commitment behind your declared intention to end the menace posed by galamsey, manifested in this matter too. Mr President, we once again urge you to lead the charge, as decisive action is required to save the nation from the dangers of galamsey.”

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Nana tasks CID to probe Prof Frimpong-Boateng’s galamsey claims 

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Galamsey, Newscenta, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng, Nana Addo, govt officials, CID,

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has directed the Police to investigate allegations by Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng regarding the involvement of some government officials in illegal mining activities.

Checks by The Finder with the Police confirmed that the directive was issued last week.

Special Investigation Unit

Following the directive, the checks revealed that the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Headquarters has commenced investigation into the matter.

The former Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation also alleged that even some staff at Jubilee House and New Patriotic Party (NPP) bigwigs are involved in illegal mining.

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Ousted by persons in galamsey?

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng in a recent interview with the state broadcaster GBC alleged that he was ousted from his position to pave the way for NPP bigwigs and government officials to continue their galamsey activities.

“Let me tell you that I did not take one excavator for anything, they know the truth. Now things are coming up, we know those who are behind it and the party people who are there, people in government including Jubilee House who are doing galamsey and so on, even now.

“There was an orchestrated scheme, even within the party and government to get me out. Why is it that when I left now everyone is in the forest?”

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng’s son accused of mining in forest reserves

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Jojo Frimpong-Boateng, the biological son of Prof. Frimpong-Boateng was accused of having links with a company called Symphony Limited allegedly involved in mining in Ghana’s forest reserves.

Audio recording

While in office in 2020, an audio recording surfaced online with the voice of Prof.   Frimpong-Boateng interacting with some persons believed to be NPP members and in the said recording, Prof.  Frimpong-Boateng was heard allegedly agreeing to granting them the green light to engage in galamsey.

Scandals of Inter-ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining

The Inter-ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) headed by Prof.  Frimpong-Boateng was hit by a number of scandals including corruption allegations levelled against some of its leaders as well as claims of 500 excavators seized from illegal small scale miners missing.

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“Though the excavators were seized and taken to the district assemblies, the heavy-duty machines disappeared later from the premises of the assemblies,” he said.

CID arrest 6 in connection with missing excavators

The CID of the Ghana Police Service on Monday 3rd February, 2020, arrested six persons in connection with the missing excavators and other seized equipment from illegal miners in the country.

Among them is the suspended New Patriotic Party Central Regional Vice Chairman, Horace Ekow Ewusi.

The others include Frederick Ewusi, Joel Asamoah, Adam Haruna, Frank Gyan and John Arhin.

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157 excavators

However, the then Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Kweku Asomah Cheremeh, said his outfit had 157 excavators in its possession.

There were 122 excavators in Adentan, 26 in Obuasi and nine in Tarkwa.

Following the scandals Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo dissolved the IMCIM in January 2021 and assigned Lands and Natural Resources Ministry the lead role in the galamsey fight.

 

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 Anti-galamsey fight making Ankobra River clean 

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Ankobra River, Newscenta, rivers, anti-galamsey fight,

The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources responsible for Mines, George Mireku Duker has noted that the return of the Ankobra River and other water bodies to their pure status is a reflection of the strides made by government’s fight against illegal mining.

According to him, the progress made in the turbidity level of the waterbodies is indicative of the fact that the anti-galamsey fight is yielding results.

Speaking after the tour of the Ankobra River which is fast regaining its authentic and clean status on Thursday, 16th February 2023 , Mireku Duker commended the various stakeholders for their respective roles in the fight against illegal mining.

While commending the various agencies and Ghanaians for their efforts,  Mireku Duker maintained that government will not take its foot  off pedal and will press on with the measures that have resulted in the gains made so far.

He noted that the training of river wardens to compliment the Operation Halt II taskforce is another laudable initiative by government that has contributed significantly to the liberation of water bodies from galamsey operations.

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He urged all individuals especially Chiefs, MMDCEs and the general public to join forces with government in its bid to protect the water bodies.

He reiterated government’s aversion on the ban of small-scale mining and expressed that government through the Community Mining Scheme and other innovations will transform the small-scale mining sector.

“We should take full responsibility of protecting Ghana’s river bodies.  We have roles to play including MMDCEs and we must all commit to protecting our water bodies.

“There are suggestions for government to close down small-scale mining activities but we are aware of the number of job opportunities created in the small-scale mining sector.

The DCE for Ellembelle District, Kwasi Bonzo said the people of Ellembelle will not sit down aloof and watch others destroy their livelihoods.

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Dorcas Amoah, DCE for Nzema East commended the government for the Community Mining scheme in the area, revealing that many lives have been impacted positively by the innovative mining scheme

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Atewa Forest: Forestry Commission destroys galamsey equipment

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Atewa forest, Newscenta, galamsey, demobilised, Forestry Commission,

The Forestry Commission has demobilized equipment being used for illegal mining in the Atewa Forest in the Eastern Region.

The demobilization was carried out at a mining site outside the Forest Reserve which has affected 0.6 hectares of the reserve.

A statement issued by the Commission said no one was found at the site where the illegal mining was taking place.
The Commission said it is working with Operation Halt II to ensure that no illegal mining activity takes place in the Forest Reserve.

It assured that the necessary steps are taken to reclaim portions of the Forest Reserve affected by the illegal activity.

The Commission said it has reported the incident to the Kyebi District Police Station and will work with them and other agencies to smoke out the perpetrators and deal with them.

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It assured the public of continuous commitment to work with all stakeholders to protect all Forest Reserves in the country

It will be recalled that eleven persons who were involved in illegal mining in the Atewa Forest were given prison sentences of between five and 15 years.

Koforidua Circuit Court B sentenced them after they were found guilty of engaging in the dig and wash model of illegal mining in the Atewa Forest Reserve, contrary to the
country’s mining laws which bar mining in forest reserves.

The 11 convicts are among 55 persons who were arrested by officials of the Forestry Commission in 16 different operations in the Atewa Forest between January and April 2022.

A document detailing the progress report on the cases revealed that the 44 people were on remand at the time.

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Three of the convicts – Alhassan Lariba, Foster Boakye and Kwaku Ampofo, who were arrested at the Pameng portion of the Atewa Forest, were sentenced to 3,000 penalty units, amounting to GH¢36,000 in addition to five years’ imprisonment.

In another case, George Asare and Godwin Ahadzi, who were arrested at the Asiakwa portion of the Atewa Forest, were fined 10,000 penalty units, amounting to GH¢120,000 or they would spend 15 years in prison.

Again, Isaac Kofi and Yaw Boadi, who were arrested in the Obourho portion of the forest, were fined 10,000 penalty units of GH¢120,000 in addition to 15 years’ imprisonment with hard labour.

Three other illegal miners – Bismark Dompreh, Kwasi Samuel and Kwadwo Baah – were handed 15 years sentence and a fine of GH¢1,000 each.

The illegal miners were arrested at various locations in the Atewa Forest, including Sagyimase, Pameng, Asiakwa, Ahwenease, Juaso, Obourho, Potroase and Apenaman,

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