10 excavators burnt in anti-galamsey operation
General News of Wednesday, 9 August 2017
The National Anti-Galamsey Task force, code named ‘Operation Vanguard,’ has reportedly set about 10 excavators on fire.
The incident reportedly happened when it invaded Extra Gold Company and other mining sites at Akyem-Banso and Kwabeng – all in the Atiwa District of the Eastern Region, on Tuesday.
The earth-moving equipment of at least 22 tonnes each were doused when a contingent of the 400 members of the task force went to the mining sites.
The team, consisting of military and police personnel, reportedly fired several gunshots at the premises of the company.
The burning of the excavators is contrary to the Minerals and Mining Act 2015.
Section 99 under Offences and Penalties states that seized equipment must be kept in the custody of the police.
Meanwhile, Operation Vanguard, which was deployed in the region on Monday, arrested 26 illegal miners for allegedly defying the ban on illegal mining (galamsey).
The suspects were arrested during patrols at some mining sites in the region.
One of the suspects, Asante Benson, 38, was arrested at Saaman, near Osino in the Fanteakwa District.
The 19 suspects were also arrested at Nsuapimso, while six others were nabbed at Ankaase, near Anyinam in the Atiwa District.
Asante Benson was remanded by a Koforidua Circuit Court to reappear on 18th August, 2017, as the rest await their fate.
The suspects are between the ages of 18 and 60.
Most of them were arrested while mining in the Birim River.
Meanwhile, 57 persons of Agye Pepo, near Aboso in the Prestea Huni-Valley District of the Western Region and Pasay-Top, a popular mining site in the Tarkwa Nsueam Municipality, have been remanded by the Tarkwa Circuit Court for engaging in illegal mining.
The pleas of the suspects – who were arrested in separate operations conducted by the joint military and police taskforce established by the government to clamp down on illegal mining activities – were not taken.
The prosecutor, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Juliana Essel-Dadzie, told the court, presided over by Emmanuel Bart-Plange Brew, that the police had not taken their statements. She, therefore, asked the court to remand them so as to help the police complete the process for trial.
Bright Baiden, counsel for the suspects, who was not happy with the prosecutor’s submission, asked the police to attach more importance to the illegal mining menace, as it’s of national importance.
The presiding judge, however, intervened and calmed both parties and explained that the Chief Justice had selected specific courts throughout the country to deal with illegal mining issues and that the Tarkwa Circuit Court is not one of them.
Mr. Brew said since the Sekondi High Court has been mandated to handle such matters, he would refer the case to that court for prosecution to begin on August 14.
The judge ordered that the gold-bearing sand that was retrieved during the exercise should be sent to the Goldfields laboratory with a representative each from the police service, task force and the illegal miners for the gold to be recovered.
He emphasised that all the other items should be kept by the police until the court was ready for hearing.
Members of ‘Operation Vanguard’ arrested the suspects together with three motorbikes, one Changan machine, 18 mobile phones, one 20KW electronic motor, two compressor machines, a bicycle and one sack of sand suspected to contain gold and an amount of GH¢14,055.
The team also impounded one Hyundai Kia truck with registration number GS 429-12, fully loaded with unspecified number of fertilizer sacks, four vehicles and one SAX compressor.