19 alleged national security galamseyers arrested
Nineteen persons alleged to be national security operatives have been arrested for engaging in illegal mining in the Atewa Forest Reserve.
The suspects clothed in military uniforms reportedly invaded the reserve in Akyem-Akateng in a Toyota Land Cruiser V8 with sophisticated rifles on Tuesday, May 4.
According to locals, the team reportedly went to the forest to arrest illegal miners but ended up mining gold instead.
This resulted in a clash as angry residents and forest guards mobilise to apprehend the suspects.
The residents deflated the tires of the vehicles the operatives used for the operation.
Reports suggest that 14 of the suspects claimed to be national security operatives from the Flag Staff House, while the remaining five are said to be locals who guided the team to the illegal mining site.
The suspects were taken to the Asamankese District Police and later to the Eastern Region Police Command.
They have been transferred to the Police Headquarters in Accra for investigations.
Meanwhile, Kade District Manager of the Forestry Commission Kwabena Adu-Bonnah has detailed a weekly breakdown of arrests involving suspects claiming to be from national security.
“Yesterday, around 8: 30 pm, an informant from Akanteng informed us about the presence of some people in military outfit entering the galamsey area, so we mobilised and around 4 pm we went to the community, by then they were coming down so with the help of the community we were able to arrest about nineteen and later eleven,” he said in an interview with Accra-based Joy FM.
They have arrested scores of suspects involved in illegal mining who claim to be members of state security.
“In a matter of 10 days, we’ve been able to arrest 65 people who are either in military or police outfits claiming to be national security officers. We arrested four just this week, 19 and 11, on some galamsey sites in the region. They have all been handed over to the police for further action,” Mr Adu-Bonnah explained.
This comes on the back of two Chinese illegal miners who were arrested at their rented residence at Ateiku in the Western Region on April 29, 2021.
The miners are said to have been operating a site in Patatwumso.
What necessitated the galamsey fight
Over the years, there have been growing public frustration over efforts to reclaim damaged environments.
Polluted water bodies like River Pra are still looking brownish with residues of cyanide.
Some areas of the country initially covered by thick vegetation have become bare.
The NPP government launched Operation Vanguard in 2017 to reclaim mining zones from environmental degradation caused by illegal mining.
President Nana Akufo-Addo made the fight against illegal mining one of the key objectives of his government.
“I have said it in the Cabinet, and perhaps this is the first time I am making this public, that I am prepared to put my Presidency on the line on this matter,” he said in 2017.
The government set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM).
A nationwide ban on small-scale mining and illegal mining, popularly known as ‘galamsey’, followed.
After four years, the government is under pressure to highlight the positives following several scandals.
There is an increasing perception that politicians are neck-deep in illegal mining and are frustrating the fight.
Even the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining has not been free from scandals.
Its secretary, Charles Bissue, resigned after an undercover investigation implicated him.
The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service concluded in their report that Mr Bissue did not circumvent laid down processes.
This was after President Akufo-Addo called for a probe into the matter following a documentary by investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas.