The latest in the fight against the longstanding menace of illegal small-scale mining, known commonly as galamsey, in the country, was a meeting between Ghana’s president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and members of the National House of Chiefs in Manhyia earlier this week.

The president also met with all his Metropolitan Municipal District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) on the same subject matter, with the aim of developing a proper roadmap to ending this menace that has corrupted many areas of the economy, as well as the environment.

While the meeting was held behind closed doors, there were a number of major issues that were expected to have been discussed.

Among those are the accusations and counter-accusations that have been levelled against a number of people in powerful offices, including politicians.

In the specific cases of some of these people, they have been directly linked to the galamsey menace, fingered once or twice as persons fueling activities that contribute to the destruction of the environment, including many of Ghana’s waterbodies.

In this article, GhanaWeb throws its spotlight on four of such major names who have been linked to the galamsey menace in the country for all the good and bad reasons.

Chairman Wontumi, NPP Ashanti Region Chairman:

It would not be the first time that the Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the Ashanti Region, Bernard Antwi Boasiako (Chairman Wontumi), has been accused of being involved in galamsey activities.

But a statement from the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, dated Friday, September 30, 2022, gave the clearest indication of perhaps, the involvement of the politician in the galamsey menace.

In the statement, the minister directed the Forestry Commission to cease the operations of Akonta Mining Company, owned by Chairman Wontumi, in the Tano Nimiri Forest Reserve of the Amenfi West Municipal Assembly.

The statement added that the politician’s company has been engaging in mining activities in the forest without a permit.

“The attention of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has been drawn to publications about certain operations by Akonta Mining Limited in the Tano Nimiri Forest Reserve in the Amenfi West Municipality in the Western Region.

“Records available to the Ministry show that, while Akonta Mining Ltd has a mining lease to undertake mining operations in some parts of Samreboi, outside the Forest Reserve, the company has no mineral right to undertake any mining operations in the Tano Nimiri Forest Reserve,” the statement said.

According to the ministry, while Akonta Mining Company had applied for a permit to mine in the said forest reserve, the minister had yet to give approval to any such application, hence rendering the activities of the firm in the said forest reserve illegal.

“Our records show that Akonta Mining Ltd, on 25 August 2022, applied for a Mining Lease to undertake mining operations in the said Forest Reserve. By a Ministerial Directive, all reconnaissance, prospecting and/or exploratory activities in Forest Reserves in the country are suspended, except in exceptional circumstances. Although this directive does not affect mining in Forest Reserves, Akonta Mining Limited’s application has not been determined. Accordingly, any alleged activity being undertaken by the company in the Forest Reserve is illegal.

“The Hon. Minister for Lands and Natural Resources has, therefore, directed the Forestry Commission to, forthwith, ensure that the company does not carry out any operation in the Forest and to take the necessary action against any person found culpable in this matter,” the statement added.

Since then, there have been several responses and supporting comments from people, including the President of the National House of Chiefs, Ogyeahohoo Yaw Gyebi II, daring Ghanaians to make available evidence that proves that Chairman Wontumi, is involved in illegal mining.

Many have also called on President Nana Akufo-Addo to call his party member to order. Wontumi on the other hand has said he has leases and permission to engage in mining.

Akwasi Addae Odike, UFP Founder:

In the case of the founder and leader of the United Front Party (UFP), Akwasi Addae Odike, he courted the anger of the chiefs of Manhyia after he passed some very bold comments on the galamsey menace.

According to the politician, there were many chiefs of Manhyia neck-deep in galamsey in the Ashanti Region, but his comments ruffled the chiefs who almost immediately came after him.

As a first measure, the politician was banned from ever stepping into Manhyia again, a situation he described as extreme.

In his defence, this was not something new to them as the Asantehene, Otumfuor Osei Tutu II, had once also expressed similar sentiments.

Yaw Danso, DCE for Bosome-Freho:

There has also been the link of the District Chief Executive (DCE) of Bosome Freho, Yaw Danso, who was summoned by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Dan Botwe, over his alleged involvement in illegal mining.

The October 2022 report indicated that the DCE had been engaged in dealings and transactions linked to mining concessions in the district.

Ellembelle DCE vs Police fight over excavators:

The DCE for Ellembelle, Kwesi Bonzoh, is reported to have been engaged in a fight with the Ghana Police Service over his connection to some excavators used at some galamsey sites.

According to an earlier GhanaWeb report, two excavators reportedly went missing in the area after they were ceased by the DCE over illegal mining activities.

He explained further that he reported the incident to the police on Wednesday, August 31, 2022, and sought the protection of two police officers for the machines.

He added that after some agreement, the officers were released but they left the excavators at 6 PM after they arrived at the scene at 2 PM, with the excuse that they had been requested to return to their station.

After this, according to the DCE, he sought clarity from the police commander at the District Police Station but the accounts the latter gave for why his men left the equipment abandoned raised concerns.

“What he said was that they didn’t have men and that the people were supposed to come back, so they called him (his personal assistant) when they were leaving, and he told them they could leave. Then I asked him how that two constables would take instructions from a civilian; that was when he said they were supposed to come because they were in station orderly, so they were supposed to come and change over,” the DCE said.

The police responded in a statement that “no excavators were handed over to the police by the District Chief Executive (DCE) of Ellembelle, Mr Kwasi Bonzoh, or any other person from the assembly.”

They further urged the public to disregard the publication while noting that the DCE, his personal assistant, and another person were even being investigated in connection with the missing excavators.

Refusing to go accept defeat, the DCE, Kwesi Bonzoh, replied and also accused the police of rather being implicit in the case.

He then asked for an independent investigation by the interior ministry, considering his argument that the police may themselves be complicit in the matter, to be undertaken.

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Source: ghanaweb


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