President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has asked persons who do not agree with the current approach being adopted by the government to stop illegal mining to seek redress in the law courts.
He pointed out that ridding the country’s water bodies and forests of Changfang machines and excavators in order to promote environmental sustainability for the present and future generations was lawful in the galamsey fight.
“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 stated.
“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, on Wednesday, when he cut the sod for work to commence on the $55 million Law Village project at Legon, near Accra.
The project, initiated by the General Legal Council through the Ghana School of Law (GSL), is to address the overwhelmed and outdated facilities, and also the traffic congestion faced at the current location on the main campus of the GSL at central business district of Accra.
When completed, the Law Village will have the-state- of-the-art 1,300-seater multi-purpose conference hall, two lecture halls, two 500-seater lecture theatres, modern law library, sick bay among others.
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 the government and the Ghana School of Law.
President Akufo-Addo noted that 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 emphasised that a person who possessed a valid license but undertook mining in water bodies or mined unlawfully in protected forest zones also committed an 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 pointed out that 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,” he 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 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, therefore, rally behind government in its effort to stamp out “far reaching illegality and criminality” – “rather than advocate for 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,” he declared.