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General News of Wednesday, 24 May 2017


Defence minister, deputy ‘disagree’ over soldiers in galamsey

The Deputy Minister of Defense, Maj. Rtd. Derek Oduro seems to disagree with his boss, Dominic Nitiwul that some military personnel may be protecting illegal miners in the country.

The two in separate interviews expressed opposing views over an allegation by the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu that some soldiers were protecting illegal mining concessions that were being operated by some illegal small-scale miners.

Mr. Amewu made the allegation when he spoke to Citi News after his tour of some areas severely affected by illegal small-scale mining in the Ashanti Region.

“The law enforcement agencies, especially the Military are protecting an illegality and I think that it is the time the truth be told. Most of the sites we visited today were heavily manned by the military command and I was wondering under what circumstances [were they undertaking this exercise] because my outfit had under no circumstance signed any contract with the military to protect that illegality,” said Mr. Amewu.

“We tried finding out from the Minerals Commission and the Minerals Commission has established beyond all reasonable doubt that they have never under any occasion established any contract with those military and so whoever authorized that military personnel to be protecting the Russian and Ukrainian sites, I think it is time, those people answer very important questions. I don’t think the military will be doing those protections because they are military and of course they will be paid handsome reward for those activities they are undertaking…Until the law enforcement agencies begin to take this action seriously I don’t think there is any way we will achieve our objective,” he added.

The Defence Minister, in reaction to the issue, told Citi News that he had no cause to doubt the claims by Mr. Amewu and therefore tasked the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Obed Akwa to immediately investigate the matter.
He indicated that he will ensure that any military personnel caught engaging in the illegal act will be dealt with.

However his deputy, Maj. Derek Oduro denied the involvement of military personnel in the act.

He said it was untrue that any soldier was protecting illegal miners in any part of the country.

“When the news came up the Chief of Defence staff has been with me and we have spoken at length on this issue. All the commanders at various places – Chief of Air staff, Chief of Army staff and even Chief of Naval staff were skeptical. Everybody doubts where that information is coming from. It is never true that armed forces are providing security for galamseyers,” he stated.
He said it’s possible that those Mr. Amewu saw were rather impersonating the military.

Government is stepping up its efforts to fight illegal mining in the country.
The menace, which has intensified in the last decade, has not been met with fierce rivalry by government to ensure that it is fully addressed since the country’s laws frowned upon it.

The Lands minister, Mr. Amewu on his tour of some affected galamsey sites has made other startling revelations including the presence of some Russians and Ukrainians in the illegal activity.

He has since emphasized that the government will ensure that all those who flout the country’s mining laws are seriously dealt with.