The Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul has instructed the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Obed Akwa to immediately begin investigations into allegations of some military men protecting illegal gold mining concessions, especially in the Ashanti Region.
He said his outfit will ensure that any military personnel caught to be engaged in the illegal act will be duly dealt with.
Dominic Nitiwul was reacting to claims by the Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu who alleged on Monday that some military officers were offering protection for some foreigners who were mining illegally.
Mr. Amewu told Citi News that, “the law enforcement agency, especially the Military are protecting an illegality and I think that it is time the truth be told. Most of the sites we visited today were heavily manned by the military command and I was wondering under what circumstances [were they undertaking this exercise] because my outfit had under no circumstance signed any contract with the military to protect that illegality.”
But according to the Defence Minister, it has not cleared any military personnel to undertake such activity.
“I would not want to doubt what he has put out there… If there is any soldier or Commanding Officer in any of our garrisons or battalion that has allowed his soldiers to go and engage in illegal mining, the army is not aware of it. As it stands now, the army has not and will not authorize anybody to engage in protecting galamseyers, those doing illegal mining. When anybody is found out to have acted against the army directives, that person will be taken through the due process, first through the army disciplinary process and of course the civilian processes,” Dominic Nitiwul said.
He noted that the Ministry is in the process of reviewing the current regime which allows soldiers to protect mining concessions.
Meanwhile the Member of Parliament for Manso Adubia constituency, Yaw Frimpong has alleged that the foreigners engaged in illegal mining sought permission from the former Defence Minister, Benjamin Kumbuor, for military protection, and were subsequently granted.
He said on the Citi Breakfast Show that, “I have made enquiries from the former Minister of Defence, Benjamin Kumbour and he said they applied for protection. I did not agree with him initially but later I felt that maybe the government takes some taxes from them so they would want to protect them.”
By: Jonas Nyabor/citifmonline.com/Ghana