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Opinions of Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Columnist: Kofi Thompson

Are there links between galamseyers and elements in the higher echelons of the military?

No one in Ghana must be allowed to bismirch the good name of the Ghana Armed Force's gallant soldiers and get away with it. Ever.

In light of that, when rumours start circulating about the military, should activist groups such as OccupyGhana, not publicly offer to investigate the connexion, if any, between the powerful and super-wealthy criminal syndicates behind most of the illegal gold mining across Ghana, and elements amongst the country's military authorities, on behalf of the good people of Ghana?

Knowing now the painful and tragic circumstances leading to Major Maxwell Adam Mahama's horrific murder - apparently resulting from a conspiracy amongst a number of local galamseyers - the plain truth is that for the sake of his family and the nation as a whole, the Ghanaian media and local activist groups across the nation ought to get to the bottom of those rumours.

Alas, the only way to exclude and dispel lingering doubts about the existence of possible links between some military officers and senior defence ministry officials secretly profiting from illegal galamsey operations, when such rumours start circulating, is to thoroughly investigate all such allegations. Nothing else, including public warnings by the defence minister to DCEs will do.

Yes, in tbne main Ghanaians admire and respect their nastion's military. However, no one in our democracy today should think that allegations of corruption in the military can be a state secret or sacred cow. It cannot be so - not when funding the military is borne solely by hapless Ghanaian taxpayers: to whom those governing the Republic of Ghana must always be accountable.

The point also needs to be made that it behoves military officers to live lives above reproach at all material times in a nation in which high-level corruption keeps growing.

The question is: Was it not the minister for lands and natural resources, the brave Hon John Peter Amewu, who caught Russians and Ukrainians mining gold illegally under the protection of Ghanaian soldiers in broad daylight?


Who exactly was it who ordered those soldiers to that area and why was that done? Perchance, were they bribed for that purporse?

And why did the minister for defence, Hon John Nitiwul - whom it ought to be pointed out has never personally even then been to the area over which a recently sacked district chief Chief executive had jurisdiction, and in which the late Major Maxwell Adam Mahama met his end - make that outrageous public demand on the airwaves of a number of FM radio stations that the said DCE ought to shut up if he "does not the know the facts" - he who then headed the district's security council?

Are there not Chinese nationals mining gold illegally - when all that they reportedly have is only an exploration license from the Minerals Commission - as we speak? Are they not infringing the Mining Act, I ask?

Surely, the deafening silence of the authorities on that particular issue disrespects the memory of the just posthumously promoted Major Maxwell Adam Mahama?

And does it not also insult the intelligence of members of the detachment of troops he led, who are allegedly said to be in the area to protect those Chinese said to be mining gold illegally in the forest reserve near Aminase - when the authorities refuse to shed light on the activities of those Chinese purportedly mining gold illegally in the Aminase forest reserve?

Surely, if there are no sacred cows in our democracy - in which ultimately there is civil control over the military - has the time not come for Ghanaians to know whether or not there are any links between elements in the higher echelons of the military and the criminal syndicates behind most of the illegal gold mining across our homeland Ghana?