bout 65 illegal miners including alleged National Security Operatives have so far been arrested in the Akyem Akanteng portion of the Atewa Forest reserve within two weeks, forestry officials in the area have revealed.
According to the Forestry officials, it is alleged that a gold deposit has been discovered by some illegal miners in the forest.
This has attracted many illegal miners from Obuasi, Tarkwa, and Akwatia to the area but with the help of the youth in the community, dozens of these illegal miners have been arrested including about 14 National Security Operatives.
Meanwhile, armed military personnel on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, arrived at the Eastern Regional Police Headquarters to pick the security Operatives.
The National Security Personnel were initially handed over to the Asamankese Divisional Police Command by the mob and the Forestry Commission but were all transferred to Eastern Regional Police Headquarters in Koforidua.
The armed military in the military vehicle came for the suspects from Koforidua to Accra in the Police branded Bus Wednesday at about 11:00am.
The youth of Akyem Akanteng on Tuesday, May 4, 2021, invaded the Atewa Forest reserve to arrest about seventeen (17) illegal miners including 14 National Security Operatives who claim to be working at the Jubilee House.
The armed National Security Operatives trespassed into the forest reserve at dawn to illegally mine gold however the youth of the community was on alert therefore massed and rounded up the suspects, manhandled and dragged them to the Chiefs’ palace before handing them over to the Forestry Commission and Police.
Five vehicles used by the operatives were smashed with some of the tires deflated by the angry youth. The damaged vehicles include a Tundra with registration number NR 9706-20, Toyota Hilux with registration number GT 9683-14, and Nissan Patrol GR with registration number GW 1966-12.
The Asamankese Divisional Police Commander ACP Kankam Boadu narrated that “Police had intelligence that some national security personnel has been accosted at the Akanteng chief’s palace. We rushed there and they handed over to us eight men who claim to be National security personnel and three illegal miners. Our interim investigation indicates that the national security personnel came there to mine for gold that is why the town folks were arrested. We rearrested them and sent them to the Regional Police Command to continue with their investigation. Our information is that the forestry Commission had earlier taken some of the national security personnel to the region but we don’t know their number”.
ACP Kankam Boadu confirmed that the suspects “were manhandled by the members of the community. They identified themselves as National Security Personnel”.
The Assembly Member for the Akyem Akanteng Henry Owusu Kesse said for the past three weeks illegal miners from Obuasi, Tarkwa, and other places armed with guns have turned their attention to the area to illegally mine gold in the forest which the community has been fighting against with support of forest guards since the community detests illegal mining.
A chief in the Akyem Akanteng Nana Kwaku Yeboah called on the Minister for Lands and Natural resources Abu Jinapor, to dispatch anti galamsey taskforce to the community to protect the forest.