Eco-Conscious Citizens, a group campaigning for clean, green and healthy environment have petitioned the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to act against illegal mining popularly known as galamsey to protect the environment.

Ghana continues to witness the disastrous effects of illegal mining, as the various water bodies, forest and other endowed rich natural resources are being destroyed with impunity.

The group is therefore urging the President to demonstrate his commitment to the well-being of future generations by taking robust action to enforce Ghana’s laws and protect the Environment, especially forests and water sources.

Below is the full statement by Eco-Conscious Citizens regarding their petition to the President.

Government Should Act Against Galamsey To Secure Our Environment.

We, the undersigned congratulate Ghanaians on relatively peaceful elections. We note that the President, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has sworn to dedicate himself to the service and well-being of Ghanaians, advance peace, progress and prosperity using his Executive Power as Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ghana.

Recent developments in the forestry and environmental sector are of grave concern and require urgent action. The indifferent attitude accorded matters of environmental abuse, destruction of Ghana’s natural heritage and non-compliance with existing national legal frameworks on sustainable environmental management, fill us with disquiet. The following key issues require immediate action from His Excellency the President:

Illegal Mining Activities in Forest Reserves:

Over the years, there have been several reports of illegal mining activities destroying our precious forests. The recent news report of the destruction of Apamprama Forest and Manso Forest is appalling and should not take place in a country that prides itself on being governed by the rule of law. We are concerned that this vandalism with its apparent private militia may be the tip of the iceberg.

The same impunity and disregard for the priceless value of our natural resources is what is informing current plans to mine bauxite at Atewa Forest Reserve, a forest that is the source of water to over 5 million people.

Ghana’s Minerals and Mining Act 703 as Amended provides administrative environmental guidelines for all mining activities in forest reserves in the country. The mining guidelines prohibit any exploration activities in protected forest reserves. It is disappointing that we have allowed mining tycoons to take over our forests. If an activity is prohibited, it should not be taking place. Where is the expected due diligence from the Forestry Commission, the Police and the Environmental Protection Agency?

Alleged Military Officers Giving Protection to Illegal Galamsey Agents working in Forest Reserves: The recent footage appearing to show military personnel protecting illegal miners destroying our forests is of grave concern considering that on 7th January 2017, the President dedicated himself to securing our natural heritage. As the adage goes “We have not inherited the land from our parents, we are borrowing it from our children.” We urge the President, as Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ghana, to take urgent, robust action to restore sanity.

Private Armies are prohibited by our Constitution, and we cannot have military personnel protecting illegal miners. Chapter 17, Paragraph 210 (2) of the Constitution states: “No person shall raise an armed force except by or under the authority of an Act of Parliament.” (3) goes on to say “The Armed Forces shall be equipped and maintained to perform their role of defence of Ghana as well as such other functions for the development of Ghana as the President may determine” If the President or his delegated chain of command did not order the deployment of soldiers, then it was illegal and the full force of the Law must be brought to bear.

The recent military involvement in support of national action to halt Galamsey was very well received and lauded. It is therefore unconscionable if some military officers are allowing themselves to be used as agents for the wanton destruction of our forest reserves and rivers. This should be treated as a matter of national security requiring an impartial, transparent investigation. We are informed that the Military High Command has initiated an investigation into the matter. Whichever institution is investigating, we hope it will be thorough, swift and impartial, resulting in a report written without fear or favour. Appropriate sanctions should be applied to culpable persons, without regard to rank. No one is above the Law of the land and the Rule of Law must reign in Ghana. We request full disclosure of the findings, as this is a critical matter of public interest.

We call on His Excellency the President to demonstrate his commitment to the well-being of future generations by taking robust action to enforce our laws and protect our Environment, especially our forests and water sources.