By: Mohammed Awal
DEFENCE MINISTER Dominic Nitiwul has justified the burning of dozens of heavy sand-winning machines and tipper trucks by the armed infantries of the Sixth Battalion in the Northern Region.
The armed infantries of the Sixth Battalion deployed from their military base in Kamina Barracks in Tamale, Saturday, March 3, carried out the combative operation to intensify a crackdown on illegal sand winning along the White River.
Hundreds of tipper truck drivers in Tamale on Sunday, March 4, complained to the Chief of Tamale, Gulkpe Naa Alhassan Abdulai, about the burning down of their vehicles by soldiers at Nawuni, near Kumbungu, where they transport illegally mined sand.
In his reaction, however, Mr Nitiwul said: “This is not the first time that the Ghana Armed Forces, through the government, have taken a decision to stop people [from sand-winning] through the use of force and burning.”
According to him, a similar incident occurred three years earlier under the erstwhile John Mahama administration.
“Mr. Speaker, you would remember that three years ago in Ashanti Region a company…got over 50 excavators burnt by the previous government,” he stated in Parliament yesterday, adding that the government at that time took a decision to protect the environment.
“The military is the last man standing in any society. What you don’t as a country is to politicise the work of the military and I am ashamed and I think it is not good for anybody who seeks to politicize the work of the military,” he added.
He said the security agencies are still looking for the perpetrators of the illegal sand-winning and that they will be prosecuted when they are arrested.
That notwithstanding, Nitiwul said, the perpetrators have the right to seek redress for the burning of the equipment.
“Nobody will stop them from seeking redress. They have absolute right to seek redress and I will support them to seek redress. That is for the court,” he said.
The Minority in Parliament has called for the resignation of Mr Nitiwul over the burning of the mining equipment.
Speaking on the floor of the House, the MP for the area (which area???????????????), Ras Mubarak, condemned the action of the soldiers, describing it undemocratic.
He said “the burning down of 14 tipper trucks, an excavator and several motorbikes is an egregious violation of the fundamental human rights of the tipper truck operators.”
He also said the military action was arbitrary and so must not be accepted in this current dispensation.