"I Don’t Believe In Burning Excavators; It’s Not Backed By Law" – Kweku Baako
Veteran Journalist and Managing Editor of the New Crusading Guide Newspaper, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jnr., says the ongoing military operation against illegal miners appears to be unfocused particularly looking at the indiscriminate manner in which seized equipment are being set ablaze.
He believes this has led to the instances of complaints by some licensed small-scale miners that their machines are being damaged although they have not committed any illegality.
Whilst in favour of the fight against illegal mining, Mr. Baako Jnr., who was speaking on Joy FM’s News File on Saturday, May 29, 2021, said his main challenge is with the method of burning the mining equipment.
The government is however comfortable with the burning of excavators, with the President even daring persons who are dissatisfied with the seizure and burning of their excavators to seek legal redress.
Mr. Baako stressed that the action of burning mining equipment was not backed by law.
“The way and manner it is being done in that indiscriminate and unfocused manner are such that even those with valid licenses but are doing the right thing have become victims.”
He suggested that the “President and his government also go to Parliament with a bill to amend” the exiting laws if it felt that the current laws were not deterrent enough.
This notwithstanding, Mr. Baako posited that the existing laws were pragmatic enough.
“I don’t believe in the burning because the utility value of that equipment could also be capitalised on by the State as the law is saying.”
He added that any excuses defending the burning of excavators were an “expression of institutional impotence.”
This remark was in relation to the inability of the government to properly account for the seized excavators over the past four years.
What the law says Sections 7, 8, 9, and 10 of the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, 2019 (Act 995) touches on how excavators seized during illegal mining are to be handled by the state.
Section 7 says “a person who provided or is involved in the provision of an excavator or any other equipment for mining operations contrary to the provision of this [mining] act commits an offense”
It thus continues in Section 8 saying, “any equipment used in or associated with the committed with offense and any product derived from the commission of the offense, shall without regard of the ownership of the equipment of product be seized and kept in the custody of the police.”
Section 9 says a court “may impose order the forfeiture of any equipment or product seized under section 8 to the State.”
When in the State’s custody, Section 10 allows the sector minister to “within 60 days after the confiscation of the product allocates the equipment or product to the appropriate State institution and publish in the gazette the name of the state institution to which the equipment or product is allocated.”