Operation Vanguard arrests five NPP,NDC supporters; investigates MPs behind illegal mining
Operation Vanguard has fingered some Members of Parliament behind illegal mining activities in Akwatia in the Eastern region.
The Vanguard’s Special Monitoring and Evacuation Officer, Nana Yaw Boadu, told JoyNews Wednesday that the MPs being trailed were from both sides of the House—the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
He declined to reveal their identities and said security services would reveal their names “at the appropriate time.”
This comes after Operation Vanguard, a combined team of soldiers and police officers fighting illegal mining, swooped in on a mining area in the Eastern region.
The team made five arrests. Nana Yaw Boadu said three of the suspects were NDC supporters while the remaining two were NPP.
Some 20 excavators were located and seized, he said.
The NPP government launched Operation Vanguard in 2017 to reclaim mining zones from environmental degradation caused by illegal mining.
President Nana Akufo-Addo has 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 three 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.
There is also pressure on the chairman of this committee, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, after he said several excavators had gone missing. The Operation Vanguard team has also been embroiled in scandalous controversies. Profiteering reports around the Operation Vanguard campaign are rife.
It is believed several collaborators within the security services, government officials and local politicians are helping illegal miners to get their properties back.
In November 2018, the police arrested three officers of the Operation Vanguard Taskforce for their alleged involvement in a bribery and extortion racket.
There is also growing public frustration over efforts to reclaim damaged environments. 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.