President Akufo-Addo has spoken for the first time on the burning of excavators that were seized from mining sites
• He said the move by his government is the most effective as it will cause a robust end to the illegalities, calling on those who disagree with his approach to go to court
• He added that the use of chanfans on our water bodies are equally illegal and should be discouraged
The president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addohas served what is in clear terms, a challenge to critics who are against his style of ordering for excavators of persons found to be involved in galamsey to be burnt, to seek redress with the courts.
Justifying his stance on the matter while publicly addressing the matter for the first time at the sod-cutting ceremony for the construction of the Law Village Project in Accra, the president said he rather needs the support of Ghanaians in bringing an end to these illegal activities that have caused irreparable damage to the country’s rivers and its vegetation cover.
There have been several calls by citizens, on the president, to deal with the growing canker, while questioning the style of burning the excavators when they could be confiscated and used for other projects for the state.
Others have suggested that the government reclaims the devastated mining sites instead.
But the president insists his current approach is what will stand, and anyone who feels it is wrong, can use the courts to seek redress.
“I know there are some who believe that the ongoing exercise of ridding our water bodies and forest zones of harmful equipment and machinery is unlawful and, in some cases, harsh.
“I strongly disagree, and I would advise those who take a contrary view to go to court to vindicate their position if they so wish. That is what the rule of law is all about.
“The Ghana Law Reports of modern times are littered with cases in which my clients thought it necessary to challenge government action. On the majority of occasions, the courts upheld my contentions, in a few others, they did not,” he said.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo also explained that the rule of law, “does not recognize social status, religious persuasion, political affiliation, ethnic origins or regional adherence,” but “merely the law and precedent, the ancient common law doctrine of stare decisis.”
Government agencies including the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, as well as the Ministry of Defence, have equally justified the burning of the excavators, reports classfmonline.com.
The president explained further that any person who, without a valid license, conveys any equipment onto a piece of land purportedly to conduct activities for the search, reconnaissance, prospecting, exploration or mining of a mineral, commits a grievous crime against the law.
“Indeed, a person in possession of a valid license but undertakes mining in water bodies or mines unlawfully, in protected forest zones also commits an illegality.
“Apart from criminal violations of Act 703, the activities of such persons desecrate our environment, pollute our water bodies, and endanger the lives of present and future generations of Ghanaians.
“They are monumental crimes which should not be condoned in any shape or form,” he said
On the subject of the presence of chanfans on our water bodies, the president said they are illegal, just as the illegality of unlawfully using excavators in protected forest zones.
“The devastation caused by these equipment is nothing short of evil, and we should not compromise in our efforts to protect our environment, forest reserves and water bodies,” he said.
Also, he stressed that, “I say with all the emphasis at my command that no rights can accrue to or flow from the criminal venture of galamsey. The equipment, which is being used for an illegal or criminal purpose, cannot confer on the owner or any other person any rights whatsoever.”
Nana Akufo-Addo also appealed to all Ghanaians, including the opposition, to rally behind his government in its efforts to stamp out far-reaching illegality and criminality, “rather than advocate the protection of non-existent rights of persons caught in this evil activity.”