The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godred Dame, has responded to the criticism that the government is not doing enough to prosecute persons engaged in illegal mining.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Newsfile, he said the perception that “we are interested in the equipment and not the prosecution of the people is wrong.”
His comments come amid the debate over the burning of illegal mining equipment like excavators which has been heavily criticised.
But Mr. Dame said, amid the furore over the burning of excavators, arrests are being made by security agencies partaking in the ‘Operation Halt’ anti-illegal mining task force.
“A many as about 45 people are on trial as a result of operations taken in the past two weeks. Most importantly, it involves about 10 Chinese nationals,” he stated.
Mr. Dame further defended the President’s backing of the burning of excavators by members of ‘Operation Halt’.
President Akufo-Addo has asked persons who are dissatisfied with the seizure and burning of their excavators and other mining equipment to seek legal redress.
In his defence of President Akufo-Addo, Mr. Dame referenced the 2018 decision of the Kumasi High Court not to award compensation to Exton Cubic Group, a mining company with links to businessman, Ibrahim Mahama, over the seizure of its mining equipment.
“The principles that the President set out in his speech on Wednesday were actually the foundations for the decision of the High Court in Kumasi. The High Court endorsed the principle that no right can accrue from the illegality,” the Attorney General argued.
Forewarning to illegal miners
Also on the matter of the government’s commitment to making arrests as part of the fight against illegal mining, Mr. Dame was questioned on the government’s announcement of the movements of the ‘Operation Halt team’.
‘Operation Halt’ is in its fourth phase, and every stage of its work has been preceded by a warning to people to vacate illegal mining sites.
Most recently, the team was being deployed to the River Ankobra in the Western Region to remove all persons and logistics involved in mining from water bodies.
Mr. Dame shied away from passing judgement on the strategy of telegraphing the deployments of ‘Operation Halt’, adding that he was not even aware of the most recent announcement.
“I do not know where this alleged announcement was made so I am not in a position to answer.”
When he was told that the announcement was from the Information Ministry, Mr. Dame added that “I don’t know the circumstances under which the Information Minister made that statement.”
In Mr. Dame’s view, despite the announcements of Operation Halt’s movements, “the most important point is that intelligence always leads to the arrest of the culprits [engaged in illegal mining].”