Private legal practitioner, Bernard Owusu Owiredu has charged the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor to “show muscle” in the fight against illegal small-scale mining (galamsey).
He said this in an interview with Berla Mundi on the New Day on TV3, Friday, April 23.
When reacting to a new directive from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources on the illegal activities of galamsey released on Thursday, April 22, directing all prospective and reconnaissance activities to cease in all forest reserves in the country, Mr. Owiredu said: “The truth is that, our honorable minister, our own friend and brother, he needs to show muscle if he really wants to fight galamsey. Galamsey is an organized lucrative endeavor, you don’t fight galamsey with probably issuing directives and warnings, they don’t hear these things, this is wealth against obeying laws, if I get wealth I get a lawyer to defend me, I get all those things to go against the law, so the motivation to get the wealth is very high.
“You need to fight these people, you need to show muscle, otherwise you’ll do all the talking, I’m speaking from experience, I have first hand experience in galamsey matters. One, I’m from Akwatia, Kusi to be precise, the two-year-old kid in Akwatia constituency or Denkyembour district knows about mining, I have engaged in mining before, physically I have engaged in it.
“When I was in Legon, vacation whilst you guys in Accra here were going about your internships in banks and all that, I was digging, I was doing galamsey to get diamonds, we do it, it’s part of us” he disclosed.
He further indicated that “and of course at a point I was the lawyer for Aisha Huang, I was part of the legal team for Aisha Huang, so Mr. Jinapor should show muscle, that’s all I’ll say. You see the activities of the miners is such that, one, they have money and two, they are ready to spend the money, that’s all I’ll say. He should show muscle, I’m being figurative here but I know he understands it.
“Because you see the point is that, if you’re in Accra and somebody is somewhere in Osino, Hemang, let me commend the Hemang chief, he’s really doing very well in the fight against galamsey, probably that will be another topic for another day. Osino, Hemang, Pameng, these are mining areas I’m talking to you about, you pass these directives and you go to sleep, deep in the night, in the deep of the forest, do you think our people are sleeping? That is why I’m saying he should show muscle”.
When asked what would be his advise for the sector minister on how to fight illegal mining, he said, “initially I thought the enhancement of the punishment was going to stop it but it has not, there’s a dedicated court, a Koforidua circuit court that handles mining, I mean young boys are going in all the time, they are being sentenced but if you jail ten today, ten will come tomorrow because it’s a source of livelihood and for us in the mining areas, most of us, I’m part, have a sense of entitlement, it is our land, why should we be hungry when we sit on gold and diamonds, when the Birim river is so rich?”.
“We need to educate our people, it’s about education, education, education, education, I tell people this, that listen, I’m here, lawyer educated but the pressure that will come from home to say that we’ve gotten this land, it’s very good, give us sponsor to do this, if you don’t do it, it’s not easy, so we need to educate our people that, yes, the Birim river may be so rich, the soil may be so rich in gold but it’s not sustainable, the next generation will be affected”.
“For me it’s about education and the show of state strength, serious state strength, if we’ll have to get our entire army to safeguard our forests we need to do it, whilst we educate our people, it should not be lipservice. If we really want to fight galamsey, we need a serious show of state power and education” he proffered.
By Barima Kwabena Yeboah|3news.com|Ghana