President Akufo-Addo has asked persons who disagree with the current government’s approach to fight illegal mining to seek redress at the law courts.

He said ridding the country’s water bodies and forest of Changfang machines and excavators to promote environmental sustainability for Ghana’s present and future generations was lawful.

“I know there are some who believe that the ongoing battle to rid our water bodies and forest zones of harmful equipment and machinery is unlawful and in some cases harsh,” he said.

“I strongly disagree, and I would advise those who take a contrary view to go to court to vindicate their position if they so wish…that is what the rule of law is all about.”

The President said this on Wednesday when he cut the sod for work to commence on the $55 million Law Village project at Legon in Accra.

The project, initiated by the General Legal Council through the Ghana School of Law (GSL), is to address the overwhelmed and outdated facilities at the main campus of the GSL at the Central Business District of Accra, especially the traffic congestion students and lecturers face.

When completed, the Law Village will have a state-of-the-art 1,300 seater multi-purpose conference hall, two lecture halls, two 500 seater lecture theatres, a modern law library, and Sick Bay, among other things.

The first phase, which involves the construction of a four-storey academic block, is expected to be completed in November this year at the cost of $4 million.

The second phase will be partially financed by government and the Ghana School of Law.

President Akufo-Addo said the Minerals and Mining Act of 2006 (Act 703), which conferred mining rights on holders of mineral licenses, was categorical in stating that “anyone without a valid license, who conveyed any equipment onto a piece of land purportedly to conduct activities for the search, reconnaissance, prospecting, exploration or mining for a mineral commits grievous crimes against the state”.

He said a person who possessed a valid license but undertook mining in water bodies or mined unlawfully in protected forest zones also committed illegality.

The President said apart from the criminal violations of Act 703, the activities of such persons “desecrate our environment, pollute our water bodies and endanger the lives of present and future generations of Ghanaians.”

“They are monumental crimes, which should not be condoned in any shape or form.”

He said the presence of improvised mining platforms on water bodies was illegal, as was the unlawful use of excavators in protected forest zones.

“The devastation caused by these equipment is nothing short of evil, and we should not compromise in our effort to protect our environment, forest reserve and water bodies,” President Akufo-Addo said.

“I say with all the emphasis at my command that no rights can accrue to or flow from the criminal venture of galamsey. The equipment, which is being used for an illegal or criminal purpose, cannot confer on the owner, or any other person any rights whatsoever.”

He appealed to Ghanaians, including many in the opposition, to rally behind government in its effort to stamp out “far-reaching illegality and criminality, rather than advocate the protection of non-existent rights of persons caught in this evil activity.”

“I swore an oath on January 7 to be faithful and true to the Republic of Ghana…and that is exactly what I am doing in the fight against galamsey.”