National security operatives arrested over galamsey in Atewa forest

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THE Eastern Regional Police Command in less than ten days in separate operations have arrested 65 persons alleged to be National Security Operatives engaging in illegal mining popularly known as “Galamsey.

The suspects who are currently in the grips of the Regional Police Command assisting in investigations were grabbed at the mining sites operating illegally in military and Police uniforms.
Kwabena Adu-Bonnah, an official from the Forestry Commission who confirmed the news to the media said, “In a matter of ten days, we’ve been able to arrest 65 people who are either in military or police outfits claiming to be national security officers. Last week we arrested some, this week, we arrested four, 19, and 11 on some galamsey sites in the region. They have all been handed over to the police for further action”.

[We should not be blamed for Galamsey – Chinese Ambassador to Ghana]

Latest Arrest

Mr Adu-Bonnah said this following the latest arrest of 19 persons who claim to be national security operatives and were apprehended by the police in the Region for illegally mining gold in the Atewa forest reserve on Tuesday.

The suspects who were wearing military uniforms invaded the reserve in Akyem-Akanteng onboard a Toyota Land Cruiser V8 with sophisticated rifles on the dawn of Tuesday under the guise of clamping down on illegal miners.

They reportedly clashed with angry residents and forest guards who had vowed to resist illegal miners.
The angry residents reportedly deflated the tires of the five V8 vehicles they used for the operation.

The five vehicles used by the operatives were also vandalized.
The damaged vehicles included a Tundra with registration number NR 9706-20, Toyota Hilux with registration number GT 9683-14 and Nissan Patrol GR with registration number GW 1966-12.

According to Adu-Bonnah, they were able to arrest the suspects after the residents outnumbered the armed men.

[Ghana has lost at least 5,000 hectares of cocoa farms to galamsey]

He added that “an informant from Akanteng informed us about the presence of some people in military outfit entering the galamsey area so we mobilised and around 4 o’clock we went to the community, by then they were coming down so with the help of the community we were able to arrest about 19 and later 11.”

Image of some of the illegal miners

What Happened

There was chaos at Akyem Akanteng in Lower West Akyem Municipality, Tuesday morning, when some persons purported to be operatives of the National Security sneaked into the Atewa Forest to allegedly mine gold.

The suspicious residents together with forestry guards who were later informed about their entry also entered the forest and managed to arrest the alleged National Security Operatives who were in the forest and handed them over to the Kade District Police Command for further investigation.

Police Reactions

The Asamankese Divisional Police Commander, ACP Kankam Boadu reacting to the issue said the Police had intelligence that some national security personnel have been accosted at the Akanteng chief’s palace.

According to him”we rushed there and they handed over to us the men who claim to be National Security personnel and three illegal miners. Our interim investigation indicates that the national security personnel came there to mine for gold that is why the town folks arrested them. We rearrested them and sent them to the Regional Police Command to continue with their investigation”.

Assembly Man Encounter

The Assembly Member for Akanteng electoral Area, Henry Owusu Kesse, narrated that three weeks ago, there was the claim that a huge gold deposit has been discovered in that stretch of the Atewa Forest by an illegal miner.

According to the Assembly Member, for the past three weeks, illegal miners from Obuasi, Tarkwa and other places armed with guns have turned their attention to the area to illegally mine gold in the forest which the community has been fighting against with the support of forest guards.

He alleged that one Baffuor Asare who says he is chairman of the small-scale miners also came there to deceive us by also taking some of the gold dust away, adding that “So we were on alert to protect the forest when on Sunday and Monday night armed men including national security operatives invaded the forest so the youth massed up and arrested them”.