Home News Galamsey: Forestry Commission arrests Chinese national, immobilises two excavators

Galamsey: Forestry Commission arrests Chinese national, immobilises two excavators

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Staff of the Bibiani Forest District of the Forest Services Division (FSD), in collaboration with members of the Rapid Response Team of the Forestry Commission, have arrested a Chinese national for engaging in illegal mining.

The team also immobilised two excavators belonging to the Chinese official, whose name was Lin Chil, 49 years old.

This was in a statement from the office of the Corporate Affairs and Media Relations of the Forestry Commission issued to the Ghana News Agency.

The incident, the statement said, happened during a swoop carried out at dawn on Friday, July 5, 2024, in the Anhwiaso East Forest Reserve in the Bibiani Forest District of the Western North Region to combat illegal gold mining in the forest reserve.

Lin Chil has since been handed over to the Bibiani Police Command for further investigation and prosecution.

The statement said about 20 illegal miners who were also on-site, managed to escape arrest as they bolted upon seeing the Forestry Commission Team.

The team also saw one excavator, which they could not have access to because it was surrounded by gaping holes dug out by these illegal miners.

The Forestry Commission Team embarked on the operation based on intelligence gathered that some illegal miners had invaded the Manse Community portion of the Anhwiaso East Forest Reserve and were guarded by heavily armed men, led by one retired military officer, ex-WO Daniel Antwi.

In June 2024, the statement said staff of the Forestry Commission embarked on a similar operation in the same reserve and immobilised some gold processing equipment.

A few days after that operation, some military officers, engaged to provide security services for Mensin Gold Bibiani Limited, a mining company, went to the Bibiani District Office of FSD on June 6, 2024, to threaten the staff.

The military men, who were in a military vehicle, entered the premises of the district office, shouting the names of the district and assistant district managers, and threatened to harm them, saying, “We will deal with you.”

A Toyota Tundra vehicle, which was believed to be accompanying the military men and occupied by some unknown men, including ex-WO Daniel Antwi, was parked just outside, close to the entrance of the FSD office.

The statement said that shortly after they arrived, the military men left the premises, due to the large number of people who had gathered there to collect seedlings for the Green Ghana Day event.

It will be recalled that in November 2023, a team from the Forestry Commission arrested nine persons, including the Chief of Manse, Nana Kwame Sobreh II, who were illegally mining in the same reserve.

The suspects were eventually handed over to the Western North Regional Police Command for further investigations and were later released on bail.

However, up until now, the suspects have not been arraigned before a court. The Police Command indicated that the docket on the case has been referred to the Attorney General’s Department for study and advice.

“The Commission is making a passionate appeal to the Ghana Armed Forces to investigate the conduct of the military officers stationed at Mensin Gold Bibiani Limited who went to the premises of the Bibiani District Forest Services Division office to threaten staff and take appropriate disciplinary action against them,” it said.

The statement appealed to the Attorney General’s Department to expedite action on the case of the nine persons, including the Chief of Manse, to facilitate expeditious prosecution of the suspects who were arrested in November 2023.

That, the statement stressed, would serve as a deterrent to others who intended to do the same.

“The fight against illegal mining in forest reserves requires concerted effort from all and sundry, especially the judiciary and law enforcement agencies,” the statement said.

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Source: GNA

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