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Council Of State Tours Illegal Mining Sites   
 
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15-May-2017  
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Okyenhene Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin II has expressed his displeasure at the consistent association of his person and palace with the activities of illegal mining in the country.

He has, therefore, threatened to sue anyone who will henceforth link him or the Ofori Panin Fie to illegal mining.
 
Speaking during a courtesy call on him by members of the Council of State last Friday, a visibly angry Okyenhene said he got worried whenever his name was associated with illegal mining in the country.

He said although he had consistently denied his involvement and expressed his abhorrence for galamsey, he found it difficult to understand why his name was connected with the nefarious activities.

Members of the Council of State, led by its Chairman, Nana Otuo Serebuor, were in Kyebi as part of an inspection tour of galamsey sites in the Eastern Region.

Shedding of tears

 “For anyone to impugn my name to a criminal activity is serious. We are not going to take this lying down. I have shed tears and expressed anger, knowing that what we are doing now is tearing the future of our children apart.

“Everybody knows that I’m against mining, not because I don’t want mining but because of what it has done to our country. As far as the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) is concerned, my lawyers are here; anybody who my lawyers hear has impugned my name in galamsey will have to meet us in court,” the Okyenhene warned. 

 “Today, an institution of government, the BNI, goes to investigate this menace and somebody has the audacity to implicate me. The question I put to you, the press, is this: if the land of Akyem Abuakwa is mine and if I have interest in gold, can’t I write to the Minerals Commission to pick up a licence and do mining properly if that is what I’ll choose to do? So it’s crazy for anybody to think that I will get up at night and go steal my own land illegally,” he lamented.

Apology

The Okyenhene, on May 10, 2017, demanded an apology from the BNI for wrongfully accusing him of engaging in galamsey activities.

His demand followed a BNI report which named him and his palace among scores of chiefs from eight regions of the country as being engaged in illegal mining activities.

Council of State

Nana Otuo Serebuor expressed disappointment at the level of devastation caused by illegal miners. 

“We are devastated; it is so bad, it’s terrible. The English will say it is cataclysmic. It means it’s beyond this world. It is terrible. 

“We are going to take a look at the totality of the mining environment, the enabling laws, the supervisory and the regulatory bodies and their roles and responsibilities to come up with the appropriate recommendations,” he said.

“I believe that by the end of the nationwide tour to all the affected areas we will be better informed to prudently advise the President on the way forward in tackling the menace,” Nana Serebuor added.

Under-staffed

The Eastern Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr Felix Addo-Okyireh, explained that the EPA was woefully understaffed, making it difficult for the agency to efficiently regulate the environment . 

"We lack personnel in the region. The whole Eastern Regional Office has only five working staff, which does not help us discharge our duties effectively and efficiently,” he said.

The Council of State team spotted some illegal miners on site during the visit but they took to their heels on seeing the convoy.
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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