Operation to ban public smoking in Tamale to be activated after six arrested in swoop

A joint military and police team on Monday arrested six suspected criminals in the Tamale Forest Reserve in the Northern Region as part of efforts to rid the forest reserve and the metropolis of criminals and restore sanity.

The almost two-hour swoop came on the heels of suspected illegal and criminal activities including the peddling of marijuana and theft-associated activities by some individuals and groups in the forest reserve.

The Tamale metropolis has two main forest reserves which are located in Nyohoni and Gumani.

However, the supposed protected areas have become homes to all criminal activities. People walk in to purchase marijuana, and exchange monies for stolen items especially motorbikes.

A chunk of residents in the metropolis are privy to these activities but authorities including chiefs have done little to curb this menace.

Children of school-going ages – both male and female – under the supervision of gang leaders have made the reserves an abode where they comfortably transact their illegal businesses.

Ironically, persons who have lost their property have been directed to these reserves. Surprisingly, they are made by the leadership of the gangs to pay for their ‘retrieved’ items.

These instances prompted the swoop led by the Mayor of Tamale, Iddrisu Musah Superior, who upon giving these peddlers a 21-days ultimatum stormed the forest in the late hours of Monday.

Large parcels of dried weeds suspected to be marijuana were seized by the security agencies and six were sent to the Tamale Metropolitan Police Command for investigation.

Ghettos erected in the reserves were razed down.

Musah Superior indicated that he has had encounters with some of these individuals who are mainly minors and have established that most of them have dropped out of school due to financial challenges.

He said the Assembly is in a position to help the minors who were rescued and are set to be returned home.

“From my interaction with them, I have realized that genuinely some of them want to do great things for themselves but they are engaged in what they are doing because their parents could not afford their school fees and they are now school dropouts,” he told journalists.

“The Assembly is going to support those ones.”

He also revealed the Assembly will from next month commence an operation to stop smoking in public.

By Zubaida Ismail||Ghana

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