The Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) has petitioned the Office of the Special Prosecutor to investigate alleged corruption in the enforcement of small scale mining laws.
ASEPA wants the Inter-Ministerial Committee against Illegal Mining and the anti-illegal mining task force, Operation Vanguard, to be the focus of the probe by the Special Prosecutor.
In the petition, it highlighted the need for “full investigations into the misappropriation of seized items such as excavators, mining equipment, gold and weapons by the IMCIM through the fight against illegal mining.”
The groups said recent allegations of corruption in the fight against illegal mining “show that the whole fight against illegal mining was a sham and a plot to get licensed small scale miners out of business so that some elements in the government can take over small scale mining in the country.”
The group further held that the allegations “border on offences such as stealing, bribery, corruption, abuse of public office for private gain and other serious offences” which fall under the purview of the Special Prosecutor.
The recent allegations ASEPA referenced involved the disappearance of hundreds of excavators seized from illegal miners.
So far, six persons have been arrested in connection with the missing excavators and since granted bail.
The six, include the suspended First Vice Chairman of the New Patriotic Party in the Central Region, Ekow Ewusi, who was also heard in an audio recording with the Environment, Science and Technology Minister, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng discussing the prospect of mining on some concessions.
The leadership of the Concerned Small Scale Miners Association has also called for a probe into the whereabouts of gold that were seized from illegal as well as other individuals who may have been engaged in other forms of corruption.
It was Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng who revealed that the state did not know the whereabouts of most of the excavators that were seized, bringing the failings of the state in the fight against illegal mining back into focus.
Calls for action
The Ranking Member of the Mines and Energy Committee of Parliament, Adam Mutawakilu called for the arrest of Prof Frimpong-Boateng for his alleged role in the disappearance of the excavators.
The leadership of the Concerned Small Scale Miners Association also plans to petition President Nana Akufo-Addo to widen the probe into the alleged corruption that accompanied the crackdown on illegal mining.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has also threatened to petition the United Nations to revoke the President’s position as co-chair of the United Nations (UN) Eminent Group of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Advocates because of the state of Ghana’s environment following the galamsey.