BY KOJO ANSAH
FOUR NIGERIENS have been arrested by the Forestry Services of the Forestry Commission in the Eastern Region for attempting to illegally mine gold in the Atiwa Forest Reserve.
The suspects were Ibrahim Dramani, 33, Osman Mumuni, 25, Adams Ali, 20 and Amidu Abubakar, 33.
Speaking to the DAILY HERITAGE, the Begoro District Manager of Forestry, Mr Kwame Oteng Awuah, explained that the foreign illegal miners sneaked into the forest reserve to prospect for gold but were arrested early last Thursday morning upon tip-off by the Rapid Responds Team of the Forestry Commission.
“We had information that some illegal miners have sneaked into Kibi portion of the Atiwa Forest Reserve. Upon receipt of this information we organised the range, that is the range manager and rapid response team at Kibi, who went over to the place at night to lay ambush.
“At dawn they heard people talking in the forest so they monitored them closely and a few hours later they saw the miners using their gold detection machines to search for gold by taking off the top soil but we managed to arrest them.”
The suspects were brought to the Eastern Regional Police Headquarters for their caution statements and put before the Koforidua Circuit Court B.
On August 30, 2017, the Koforidua Circuit Court B, presided over by Her Honour Mercy Adei Kotei, convicted 29 foreign illegal miners, 25 of whom were Nigeriens, to a total fine of GH¢ 15, 690,000.00.
In default, the illegal miners were to serve a total of 139 years for illegally mining in the Atiwa Forest Reserve.
The forestry officials, in an interview, said the technology used by the Nigeriens to detect gold, if allowed to fester, would whip up enthusiasm for illegal mining in the country.