Chainsaw Gang Leader Jailed

Francis Koranteng, the leader of a gang of chainsaw operators who illegally entered the Oda Forest Reserve at Hiayeya in the Amansie Central District, has been sentenced to seven days’ imprisonment in hard labour.

The convict and Boateng, farmer and Stephen Tetteh, farmer, entered the forest without permission to fell several species of trees and also destroy other young trees worth GH¢16,000.

The court also sentenced all the three convicts to pay a fine of GH¢3,300, part of which would be given to the state and the Forestry Commission or in default they would go to prison for six months.

Again, the court, presided over by His Lordship Kwabena Ansah Pobi, also confiscated all the machines of the illegal chainsaw operators and gave them to the Forestry Commission.

The complainants in the case are Agyapong Emmanuel, Assistant Manager, Forestry Commission and George Agbenowoshi, District Officer Forestry Commission for Bekwai.

The prosecutor, Detective Chief Inspector Francis Osei Boateng said the three illegal chainsaw operators entered the Oda Forest Reserve and fell different species of trees, including the Esia tree, and also destroyed other young trees.

According to the prosecutor, the Forestry Commission officials, upon a tip-off from some Good Samaritans, rushed into the forest and managed to apprehend the trio who were about to cut the felled trees into boards.

George Agbenowoshi, District Officer Forestry Commission for Bekwai, in a chat with the media after the sentencing, said he wished the court would have given the convicts severe punishments to serve as deterrent to other illegal chainsaw operators.

He said he had realized that the illegal chainsaw operators prefer to pay fines and later undertake their nefarious activities of felling the trees illegally.

Mr. Agbenowoshi, however, commended the court for punishing the three convicts, saying “we have made some other arrests and we had hoped the court would have sentenced those people to two years into prison each to serve as deterrent to their colleagues.”

He disclosed that some opinion leaders usually visit the Forestry Commission offices to plead on behalf of people who have been arrested.

Mr Agbenowoshi also appealed passionately to the public to provide the Forestry Commission with vital information that will lead to the immediate arrest of chainsaw operators, saying that his outfit is under-staffed and needs the support of the public to protect the forest.