Defiant ‘Akonta’Invades Forest Again
A Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources has assured that government will do the needful by ensuring that its position that the TanoNimiri Forest Reserve is not up for grabs is strictly adhered to.
According to George MirekuDuker, reports that Akonta Mining Limited has returned to the Forest Reserve, when it has earlier been asked to move out, will be looked into and the right things would be done, without fear or favour.
He hinted that, a team will soon storm the area for action, even though the security forces have been tasked to take over the place in the interim.
Speaking on Joy FM’s news analysis programme,‘NewsFile,’last Saturday October 8, monitored by The Anchor, Mr.Dukerindicated that, the reserve is secure and under constant surveillance.
The assurance by Deputy Minister,who doubles the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tarkwa Nsuaemin the Western North Region, follows the latest account by the Multi-media’sErastus Asare Donkor, that the mining company,belonging to the Ashanti Regional chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Bernard AntwiBoasaiko alias ‘Chairman Wontumi,’ has allegedly resumed operation in the forest reserve again, in spite of the directive to stop.
According to him, the embattled company had recalcitrantly stormed the forest reserve and that his scouts in the area had given him this incontrovertible information.
He mentioned that,the company stormed there three days earlier and that, a barrier that was erected as a result of Mr. Jinapor’s instructions, had apparently been destroyed by the company, paving the way for their entry.
The journalist, based in the Ashanti Region, who has been on the beat for the station touring different galamsey sites, said he had videos to that effect.
“I must also say that I heard him [Mr.Duker] talk about the cessation of mining within the TanoNimiri Forest. I will tell you that it is going on as we speak. I have videos to support that we have scouts in the area who are sending us up to date, every minute up-date to us.
“I can show him videos of Akonta Mining and his equipment within the Forest as we speak, so he has not left, he has scouted some of his equipment out, he is still there, some of the equipment are still there. The barrier that was erected per the Minister’s instructions has been broken by the mining company, they entered the forest three days ago again,” he said.
But reacting to the claim, Mr. Duker told host of the programme, Samson LardiAnyenini, that the chairman and board of the Forestry Commission, last week, stormed the under-siege forest to learn at first hand the situation there and subsequently ordered the security agencies to take over the place.
“Indeed, the deputy minister responsible for forestry was there, he brought the report that they had left and once Erastus indicated that they came back last three days, we will follow up and make sure the right things are done,” he said.
The deputy minister went on to read out a message his colleague deputy minister in charge of Forestry, Benito Owusu–Bio, sent him while on the programme.
“But for the meantime the Deputy Minister for Forestry sent me a message that yesterday the chairman and the board of the Forestry Commission were there in the Tano, so currently the place is under constant surveillance, we shall storm there again and we have tasked the security forces to take over the place,” he read.
The latest report follows a directive by the Minister for Lands and Natural Minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor, that the company had no mining lease to mine in that Reserve.
The minister had on September 30, issued a directive to the Forestry Commission to halt operation by the Akonta Mining Limited in the TanoNimiri Forest Reserve.
Part of his statement read, “The attention of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has been drawnto publications about certain operations by Akonta Mining Limited in the TanoNimiri 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 TanoNimiri Forest Reserve.”
Mr.Duker also said a lot of activities are being rolled out as far as the fight against illegal mining was concerned.
He said at Dompim, where he used to be a chief before he relinquished it for the Tarkwa Nsuaem parliamentary seat, a good number of illegal miners were arrested recently.
According to the MP and deputy minister, the operation was embarked upon by the district chief executive of the area and the security agencies.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ken Ashigbey, who is the convener, Media Coalition Against Galamsey, has commended the Lands and Natural Resources Minister, for cracking the whip on owner of Akonta Mining Limited.
Dr Ashigbey, who was also on the programme, last Saturday, said Mr. Jinapor has shown enough political will except that he expressed disappointment in President Akufo-Addo for not using the forces at his disposal to punish Mr.Boasiako and his company.
The convener of the group said, “Your minister has shown political courage by pointing out Akonta Mining, who is mining illegally in a forest reserve, so the President talks about give me evidence. This is the Minister for Lands providing the evidence, this is the Mineral Commission, the regulator, corroborating what the minister has said.
Mr. Ashigbey noted, “This is the accused person coming back to showing us an entry permit and accepting that they are involved in illegality.”
“But, unfortunately, when the President got the opportunity, to speak, he spoke only about one person and left another person and outer ego of Akonta Mining out of the situation, so when we decide that we will not use the force at our disposal to deal with the challenges befalling us then we have an issue,” he added.