On Wednesday, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources launched the 2023 edition of the Green Ghana Day in the Ashanti Region. The Green Ghana initiative, which was started in 2021, under the auspices of the sector Minister, Mr John Abu Jinapor, forms part of the aggressive national afforestation/reforestation programme to restore the lost forest cover of Ghana, and to contribute to the global effort to mitigate climate change.
The project is also to create national awareness of the necessity of collective action towards restoration of degraded landscape in the country, as well as inculcate the values of planting and nurturing trees and its associated benefits amongst the youth.
Last Wednesday, the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, served as the Guest Speaker for the programme, and the address he gave leaves much to be desired. The King said he was unhappy with the spate of illegal mining activities that had ravaged lands in parts of the Ashanti Region, particularly the Amansie area.
He was particularly unhappy about why chiefs in the district had allowed the menace to go on in their communities. “It is very sad that despite the several measures government has been putting in place to curb this menace, illegal logging and illegal mining continue to pose a threat to our forest, which means that government cannot do it alone, we must all get involved and support government.
“I’m not happy with chiefs in the Amansie area where galamsey has taken over the land, and I say to them that if you sit there and you claim that you don’t know what is happening, then you’re not fit to be a chief over there,” the King said.
Based on this, the Asantehene said he would pay a visit to those areas and that the chiefs in the communities should be ready to answer why the menace had got to the level it was, despite government’s intervention in bringing it to an end.
Some months ago, the Founder and Leader of the United Progressive Party, Akwasi Addai, popularly known as Odike, made a categorical statement that some chiefs in the Ashanti Region were complicit in the illegal mining activities. The statement caused so much disaffection among the chiefs, to the extent that Mr. Odike was dragged before the Sanhedrin.
But listening to the Asantehene on Wednesday, it is correct to say that some chiefs are aiding and abetting in the destruction of the environment through illegal mining. They may not be directly involved in the commission of the crime, but since they are the custodians of the lands, it is right to say that they are the ones who give out the lands to those who engage in galamsey (illegal mining) activities.
The Chieftaincy Act (Act 759) has clearly defined a cause or matter affecting chieftaincy and the sale of lands to private individuals for illegal mining is not a cause or matter affecting chieftaincy. This means any chief caught in the Act can be charged for abetment and dealt with accordingly, using provisions on abetment in the Criminal Offences Act 9Act 29).
Government is spending a lot in the fight against galamsey, and if our chiefs, who are supposed to ensure that the right things are done in their communities, are shirking their responsibilities, then The Chronicle believes it is time to turn the radar on them.