The Ghana Association of Small Scale Miners (GASSM) has expressed disappointment at the Special Prosecutor for declining to investigate alleged acts of thievery and corruption hindering the fight against illegal mining popularly known as ‘galamsey’.
The General Secretary of the Association, Godwin Armah speaking on JoyNews’ Newsfile programme said Martin Amidu’s decision means the activities of illegal miners will continue and cause even more destruction to arable lands and water bodies in the country.
“I am disappointed because issues like these must be taken seriously if we want to deal with illegal mining in the country. Names and allegations that comes out must be investigated and proper punishment given to those who are proven guilty.
“But if you say you are not interested or leave it, then at the end of the day we will get to the situation where illegalities existed,” he said.
About two weeks ago, Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) petitioned the Special Prosecutor, invoking Act 959 of the Special Prosecutor Act alleging that an audio circulating on social media purporting to be a conversation between Environment Minister, Prof Frimpong Boateng and the Central Regional Vice-Chairman of the NPP, Ekow Ewusi, is enough evidence of alleged corrupt acts thwarting the fight against galamsey.
But Mr Amidu in his reply on February 24, explained that his outfit cannot establish acts of corruption or corrupt related offences as mandated by its binding law to investigate.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, February 27, the joint military and police task force deployed to clamp down on galamsey were asked to withdraw from their bases across the country.
Commenting on that development, Godwin Armah said it was nothing new since previous governments have continuously deployed and withdrawn the military in the fight against illegal mining.
“In 2006 under the Kuffour administration, the military was introduced which was called “Operation Flash out” [and was withdrawn]. Again in 2013 under the NDC era, the military was asked to come and clamp down on the illegal mining going on the country. Then in 2017, we had Operation Vanguard to crack down illegal mining.
“Looking at the trend you observe that the military has been posted and withdrawn at all times and this recent one is no different,” he said.
He further acknowledged that although the Operation Vanguard task force may not have achieved the desired results, without their intervention, the situation might have been worse.
“The taskforce destroyed over 10,000 illegal dredges on our water bodies. And the Association’s taskforce has destroyed over 8,000 dredges so if this intervention did not come then we will have more than 20,000 dredges on our water bodies.”
The GASSM Secretary then suggested that with the absence of the military, state institutions responsible for the mining sector must be adequately resourced to continue the anti-galamsey fight.
Also commenting on the issue, MP for Tamale North, Alhassan Suhuyini said Operation Vanguard was a failure since the purpose of its establishment was not achieved and most of the country’s water bodies are heavily polluted.
“I don’t know what we call success, because in the report of the pull out it concludes that the campaign has failed. So if in the face of failure, we placate ourselves and talk success, then our measure of success is very low,” he said.