Courts not helping fight against galamsey activities – Minister

Small scale miners

Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, outgoing Eastern Regional Minister, has said the courts have not helped security agencies to stem the tide of illegal mining in the Region.

He said the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) and the Regional Security Council (REGSEC), had been more than committed to the cause of fighting “galamsey” activities but it seemed to yield no significant results because the courts had not been helpful.

The Minister said this during the presentation of a committee report on the death of a second year student of the Abuakwa State College, who fell into a pit created by illegal mining activities last December at Kyebi in the Region.

Mr Ofosu-Ampofo said he was leaving the Region with the mind that he had fought the galamsey menace with all the strength in him, adding “…the blood of those dead can never be on me except that the courts did not complement my efforts”.

He expressed disappointment at several rulings of the courts involving illegal mining suspects who were arrested by the security agencies under life threatening circumstances.

Mr Ofosu-Ampofo said until all the processes including the courts were fully consummated, galamsey would continue to remain a threat.

He said, “My greatest disappointment had been how the courts have handled the galamsey cases imposing fines as low as 200 dollars to suspects whose activities have claimed some lives and continue to pose a life threat to the people”.

He noted that some of the court rulings were contrary to the punishments and fines stipulated by the Minerals Commission and wondered how they could have made headway with that attitude of the courts.

Mr Ofosu-Ampofo extolled the efforts of the security agencies and the RCC whose resources had been overstretched in ensuring that the galamsey activities were brought under control.

On December 13, 2010, Abubakar Yusif Jamal, the second-year student of the Abuakwa State College at Kyebi, drowned in a pit near the school with reports that he went to fetch water from the pit to scrub a teacher’s bungalow as a punishment.

Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, also the Chairman of the REGSEC, later inaugurated the Committee to investigate the circumstances that led to the death of the student.

The terms of reference for the Committee included the establishment of the true owner of the pit and whether he had legal documents, if the school was aware of the pit and who or what sent the deceased to the pit.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Dwamena Yeboah, Chairman of the enquiry Committee, said it was established among others that the pit was dug illegally by a galamsey operator, known as Alhaji Sulley Parnor and it had been there for about four months.

It also found that the deceased was not sent to the pit by any teacher as a punishment and that he had actually gone there to swim as had been the practice of some of the students even though the teachers had warned them against that practice.

The report indicated that the pit was supposed to have been 300 metres away from the school as per the rules but the pit in which the student drowned was only 150 metres away and the authorities had notified the police and the Municipal Assembly of the existence of the pit in order for it to be covered.

The report, therefore, recommended to the REGSEC to arrest and prosecute the suspect, Sulley Parnor as well as ensure that all mining activities around the school premises were halted.

Source: GNA

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