Rosewood dealers must be penalized – Apaak

Member of Parliament for Builsa South Dr Clement Apaak, has pointed out that his problem with the sanction regime in outlawing the cutting of rosewood in the country is that the public must see the dealers of rosewood penalized to serve as a deterrent to others who are illegally exporting rosewood.

He said there have been media announcements of rosewoods impounded from Nigeria and some within the country but there have not been sanctions nor an investigation into the incident concerning the culprits involved.

Dr Apaak pointed out that before the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Samuel Jinapor announced the impoundment of rosewood emanating from Nigeria there had been a seizure of some five containers of rosewood from within but the minister failed to indicate that he had handed over that case to the National Investigations Bureau (NIB) for an investigation into the matter.

He said this raises the question as to why the five containers of rosewood from within have not received the same level of attention in terms of the minister instructing for an investigation to ascertain the culprits behind it as compared to the directive by the minister to investigate the ones emanating from Nigeria.

Dr Apaak charged that the government must crack the whip harder on those dealing in rosewood from within the country rather than dealing with them with soft gloves when everyone knows the effects of their illegal activities.

He said when the government deals with the illegal dealing of rosewood in such an arbitrary manner, it gives room for speculation and all manner of conjecture about the government’s willingness to stop the illegal cutting of rosewood in the country.

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Dr Apaak said this in an interview with Johnnie Hughes on the New Day show on TV3, Monday, September 6.

He was commenting on the back of the illegal cutting of rosewood in the country and its impoundment by the security agencies and the lack of prosecution of persons involved in the trade even though rosewood trading has been banned on the international market.

“The issue of illegal harvesting of rosewood, I have been at it for quite a while and I am very dogged at this advocacy for good reasons. But you have asked a very profound question whether I have seen any improvement, I wish I could say yes but in all honesty, if I were to say yes I would be doing myself a great disservice and I would be disingenuous. It is true that governments over the years have indicated, at least publicly, its intent to enforce the ban that they have introduced”, he pointed out.

“My problem with the sanctions regime remains the fact that we are not seeing people being penalized for engaging in that act. You remember that before this recent impoundment of some 13 containers said to have emanated from Nigeria, there was an impoundment of 5 from within and we have not heard any sanctions, we have not heard the minister indicate any investigations, we have not heard him say, as in the case of the 13 impounded from Nigeria that he has handed over the case to the NIB for an investigation”, Dr Apaak charged on the New Day.

He further pointed out that he has received some messages from the dealers of rosewood threatening him to back off and that he is destroying their businesses and some even calling him a hypocrite. But the Builsa South lawmaker said he is consoled by the fact that he has taken on worthy advocacy in the interest of the country.

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By Barima Kwabena Yeboah||Ghana