Four private citizens have petitioned the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service to investigate and prosecute owners of the Akonta Mining Company for allegedly undertaking illegal mining activities in the Tano Nimiri Forest Reserve.
They allege that the activity of the mining company was in contravention of the Minerals and Mining Act 2006 (Act 703), as amended by the Minerals and Mining Amendment Act, Act 2019 (Act 995).
They are also asking the CID to investigate the people acting as directors of the company and also let them to face the law, as they are breaching the law against illegal mining.
The four persons are the Founder of the Media Coalition Against Galamsey, Dr Ken Ashigbey; a legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu; the Co-chairman of the Citizens Movement Against Corruption, Edem Senanu, and a fellow of the Centre for Democratic Development, Ghana (CDD-Ghana), Kwame Asiedu.
Some of the pieces of evidence the four have submitted to support their petition are videos and photos of the affected area which show some parts of the forest area cleared, power generators, excavators and pumping machines left at the site.
There are also photos of the excavated soil and other mining operations as found at the site, contrary to Section 99 of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), as amended by the Minerals and Mining (Amendment Act) Act, 2019 (Act 995).
The four said they were petitioning the CID to take up the issue of illegal mining (galamsey) which they said was not only criminal but also causing the loss of parts of Ghana’s forest cover, polluting the water bodies, as well as posing health and environmental threats to Ghanaians.
Their petition is that, contrary to claims by Akonta Mining that it has not taken any illegal mining in the said forest reserve, there is evidence of such an act, hence the petition for the company to be investigated.
They said the Minister of Lands and Natural Resource, Samuel Abu Jinapor, and the Minerals Commission had also confirmed the action and said it was being investigated.
“However, since all galamsey activities are criminal, this should also be considered as such and taken up by the appropriate security agency other than a supervising ministry or agency,” Dr Ashigbey told the Daily Graphic.
Dr Ashigbey, who was throwing more light on the petition, indicated: “In the months of August and September 2022 or thereabouts, Akonta Mining undertook illegal mining/mining operations in the Tano Nimiri Forest Reserve.”
“Indeed, the same company conducted prospecting in the same forest without the requisite licences/permits, a situation that led to a stand-off between some workers of Akonta Mining and the people of Samreboi when the former attempted to take mining equipment into the forest reserve and gunshots were fired.
“To buttress our point, Mr Jinapor issued a press statement on September 30, 2022 which, among others, said Akonta Mining had no business going into the forest to conduct any mining and mining-related operations.
“Similarly, the Minerals Commission also raised the issue, and in a press statement dated October 3, 2022, it said it had been asked to investigate,” he said.
Dr Ashigbey further explained that the fight against galamsey could no longer be left for the state but was a collective effort, since galamsey was impacting everyone.
“One way or another, everyone will be impacted through the pollution of water bodies and even the soil on which the food we eat is grown. We are all at risk, hence our decision to lead this on behalf of ordinary Ghanaians,” he said.
He said the petition was to provide the security agency good enough evidence to act.
“Anytime issues on galamsey are raised, we are asked to bring evidence. Our petition is, therefore, to provide the evidence to get the police to act.
“We have conducted our research at the Office of the Registrar of Companies and found the names of the shareholders, the beneficiary holders, as well as the directors of Akonta Mining.
“Having found the names behind the company, we were looking for an opportunity to see whether they are real or fictitious. But one of them signed a letter and he designated himself chief executive.
“So it means that he is an executive person responsible for the mining in the Nimiri Forest and we have tendered that as evidence too and asked the CID to investigate him as well,” Dr Ashigbey further indicated.
He maintained that with the situation getting worse, one of the ways to deal with the galamsey fight was to go beyond arresting those caught in the act and name the financiers involved in the menace and ensure they were made to face the law.
“They are the real threat, not the poor people often arrested and caged, as has been the case,” he noted.
Efforts to reach the CID through telephone calls and text messages to confirm receipt of the petition yielded no result.