President Akufo-Addo has asked persons who are dissatisfied with the seizure and burning of their excavators and other mining equipment by members of the government’s ‘Operation Halt’ team to seek legal redress.
The President said he remains strongly opposed to the activity of illegal mining and the destruction of the country’s land, water, and forest resources, and will ensure that everything possible is done to stop such activities.
Speaking at a sod-cutting ceremony for the construction of a new school complex for the Ghana School of Law in Accra, Nana Akufo-Addo said the government will deal decisively with the menace of illegal mining without political, ethnic, or religious considerations.
“I know there are some who believe that the ongoing exercise of ridding our water bodies and forest zones of harmful equipment and machinery is unlawful and in some cases harsh. I strongly disagree, and I will 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,” Akufo-Addo said.
The Ghana Armed Forces has been deployed to various parts of the country to fight illegal small-scale mining affecting water bodies and forest reserves.
As part of their operations, the ‘Operation Halt’ taskforce has supervised the burning of various mining equipment including excavators and generators, but this activity has been widely condemned by some persons who believe the seized equipment could serve other useful purposes.
Some affected small-scale miners also claim they have documents backing their operations, and that they have been unfairly targeted; a situation that some fear could lead to the payment of judgement debts should such persons choose to go to court.
But President Akufo-Addo disagrees with this position, insisting that any such contrary view should be argued out in court.
“Apart from the criminal violations of Act 703, the activities of such persons desecrate our environment, pollutes our water bodies, and endangers the lives of present and future generations of Ghanaians. These are monumental crimes that should not be condoned in any shape or form. The devastation caused by this equipment is nothing short of evil, and we should not compromise in our efforts to protect our environment, forest reserves and water bodies,” Akufo-Addo said.
He further called on all Ghanaians to support the government’s efforts to address the problem.
“I appeal to all Ghanaians including many in opposition to rally behind government in its efforts to stamp out this far-reaching illegality and criminality rather than advocate for the protection of non-existent rights of persons caught in this evil activity.”
“That is the rule of law. It does not recognize social status, religious persuasion, political affiliation, ethnic origins or regional adherence, merely law and precedent”.