Chairman of the Eastern Regional Security Council Seth Acheampong says individuals whose excavators have been burnt as part of “Operation Halt” activities by the military to stop illegal mining will be prosecuted and jailed.

He says the fight against illegal mining will not end with the destruction of equipment alone.

Military personnel deployed under “Operation Halt”, which is working to stop illegal mining activities last month, burnt down excavators in the Eastern Region belonging to Xtra Gold which NPP Women’s Organiser Kate Gyamfua runs. Several other excavators have been burnt down in the Ashanti and Western Regions.

Seth Acheampong, who is the Eastern Regional Minister, tells Joy News government will go after individuals involved in the illegal trade.

“We are going after the culprits involved in illegal mining seriously… Most of the culprits are not indigenes…The fight will not stop. The fight will continue,” he said.

“The determination is going beyond just burning excavators. Pretty soon, you will see people being prosecuted. People will be put behind bars. This is a war. Ghana is at war with people who want to destroy public properties and our national assets,” he added.

Mr Acheampong assures that not even members of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) will be shielded if found culpable after investigations.

“Madam Gate Gyamfua you mentioned, investigations are still ongoing. She is our own. If we were to be having as 9-day wonder, the operatives would not have touched here. But this tells you the seriousness with which the Commander in Chief’s orders are being carried out… Any person who falls within the perimeters… will be touched.

“Nobody is above the law… Ghana must succeed. We cannot continue in this endeavour. We need to bring this to a halt at a point in time,” he added.

Mr. Acheampong insists the decision to burn down excavators is in the right direction despite criticsm that the law requires the state to rather confiscate such illegal equipment. He describes as horrible the impact of illegal mining activities on the lives of the people as it has made water scarce in some areas in the Eastern Region.

“At a point in time, Ghana Water Company had to shut down their treatment systems because the turbidity level is so high it was going to endanger and destroy their machines… Water is food. And when cyanide and mercury enter our water bodies, it’s going to kills us,” Mr Acheampong observed.

He says agriculture which is the backbone of the local economy is also at risk because of the activities of illegal miners, adding there is the need to protect peasant farmers who earn their livelihood from farming activities.

“Our cocoa beans are infested with mercury. And this is bringing the soul of our country down and we are determined to fight this canker. It cannot continue this way. We cannot live as a people who are irresponsible,” he added.