By: Thomas Fosu Jnr
Investigations conducted by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) into illegal mining activities, popularly called ‘galamsey,’ have indicted some prominent politicians, chiefs and military kingpins who are alleged to be the brains behind most of such illegal mining activities across the country.
DAILY GUIDE has not independently verified the personalities named in the report, but the 20-page report cited by Joy FM leaks aspects of the BNI investigative report, which allegedly names some of the politicians as Benson Baba Tongo, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Talensi in the Upper East Region (UER) who it is claimed, is behind galamsey activities in the Talensi constituency.
Meanwhile, Mr BT Baba has debunked the national security confidential report.
The lawmaker and sports administrator has admitted owning a small-scale mine in the Upper East Region and engaging in same but said his documents are completely legal.
Ghana’s laws allow small-scale mining but a number of the small-scale miners are deemed to be engaging in galamsey which has polluted river bodies in Ghana, destroyed farm lands and the environment in general.
Another person named by the BNI is Bunyak Kolog, an alleged financier of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the Talensi constituency, who was also reported as financing galamsey activities in the UER, while an unnamed official at the Precious Minerals Office at Bolgatanga, the regional capital of UER, was also found to be financing galamsey activities in towns such as Gbane, Blung and Datoku – all in the Talensi District.
The BNI report said that prominent chiefs in the Ahanta West District of the Western Region are also actively behind galamsey in the district.
In towns like Adieworsu, Jumako, Abura, Tonru and Mempeasem, chiefs and elders are said to be actively involved in galamsey.
According to the report, the chief of Bokorkope in the Shama District of Western Region, Nana Issah Muni, is said to have acquired a concession from the Minerals Commission and the Shama District Assembly under the pretext of winning sand, but ended up using it for illegal mining activities.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bupong Construction Limited at Twifo Praso in the Central Region, Prince John Baidoo, has also been indicted in the report.
The BNI said the CEO is engaged in alluvial and surface illegal mining in the Twifo Praso, Beposo, Sekyere-Krobo, Sekyere-Didieso, Basase and Sekyere-Nsuta areas of the Central and the Western Regions.
There were only two regions that the report said did not have cases of illegal mining activities.
Checks conducted in the Volta and the Greater Accra Regions revealed that there were no illegal mining activities there.
The BNI report comes at a time pressure continues to mount on the current Nana Akufo-Addo administration to clamp down on illegal mining activities that are responsible for the pollution of the country’s water bodies and the environment in general.
Ghana is losing its water bodies and forest reserves due to ‘galamsey.’
From the Western Region right to the Eastern Region, water bodies that serve as the major sources of drinking water for residents have been polluted, with the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) complaining bitterly about the increasing cost of treating polluted water for consumption by the public.
Since the start of efforts to end the practice, some gains have been made. Available data at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources reveal that a total of 500 excavators used by some illegal miners have been handed over to the government.
The Minerals Commission has also said there has been a reduction in the quantity of gold that is traded by natives.
The BNI report revealed that there is growing dissatisfaction with government’s campaign to clamp down on galamsey.
“The directives given to illegal miners to stop mining activities within three weeks by John Peter Amewu, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, received mixed reactions from illegal miners, residents of communities affected by activities of miners and the public,” the report indicated.
It cited the claim by some youth in the Brong-Ahafo Region that government’s directive is not a sustainable measure in combating the menace.
Apart from the backlash of the effort to stop the galamsey activities, the report said efforts to end the practice have also received widespread commendation.
“The general public was also unanimous in condemning collusion and involvement of some chiefs, politicians and security personnel,” it pointed out.