The Member of Parliament for the Kumbungu Constituency, Ras Mubarak, is demanding a probe into the burning of 14 tipper trucks, an excavator and dozens of motor cycles at Afia Yile by military personnel a fortnight ago.
The military contingent from the Operation Vanguard team on March 3, burnt down the trucks and other equipment in the Dalun Electoral area ostensibly to prevent sand winners from polluting the Nawuni River which is a source of water supply to the Tamale metropolis and its environs.
But Ras Mubarak, in a statement to call the House’s attention to the development said the military were excessive in their approach in dealing with an illegality by perpetuating an illegality.
“The burning down of 14 tipper trucks, an excavator and motor cycles is an egregious violation of the fundamental human rights of the tipper truck operators,” Mr Mubarak stated.
Quoting sections of the Mining and Minerals Act which empowers the state to confiscate equipment used in, or associated with the committing of an illegal mining activity, Ras Mubarak said the state was excessive in burning the equipment.
“Clearly Mr Speaker, the laws of the land do not prescribe the burning down of trucks and other equipment, and the military, which I hold in high esteem, acted arbitrarily and that must not be accepted in this current dispensation.
“State actors, especially the military, cannot and must not be seen to be sidestepping the laws of the land. It sends a bad signal that we are still stuck in the stone-age,” Ras Mubarak stressed.
Responding to the Kumbungu lawmaker, the Defence Minister, Mr Dominic Nitiwul justified the operation of the Military saying it was to save the water body from further pollution.
According to Mr Nitiwul, MP, Bimbilla, the Ghana Water Company Limited had given an indication that if nothing was done to stop the pollution of the Nawuni River, it would shut down its treatment plants because it spends six times more to treat the water because of the high turbidity level.
He said the team was left with no option than to torch the trucks because on four previous occasions that the team went there to effect arrests, the illegal sand winners bolted.
He said the Kumbungu incident was not the first time the military had burnt down mining equipment, adding that “the military is the last man standing and their work must not be politicised.”
The First Deputy Speaker of the House, Joseph Osei Owusu, commenting on the matter said a more brutal approach, more than burning down equipment, was needed to stem the spate of illegal mining activities in the country.
He said if such brutal measures were adopted, persons who may be harbouring the intention to venture into such illegalities will be deterred from doing so.
But the Second Deputy Speaker, Alban Bagbin, MP, Nadowli-Kaleo, said Ghana has used force in the past to deter illegal miners yet the expected results have not been achieved.
Mr Bagbin wants governments to use dialogue and appeal to the conscience of illegal miners in all shapes and explain to them the cause of their actions and that when this is done, the menace of illegal mining will be minimised if not completely stopped.
The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, on his part said the use of force by the military was permissible per provisions of article 13 of the 1992 Constitution which may end up in illegal miners losing their lives and cautioned persons mining illegally to refrain from the act.
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Publish date : 2018-03-14 11:24:52