The Deputy Lands and Natural Resources Minister in Charge of Forestry, Benito Owusu Bio, is open to an investigation into the allegations of illegal mining against the Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie and the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Bernard Antwi Boasioko.
He has however said that the ministry’s initial checks indicate that there is no substance to the allegations.
The two have been accused of engaging in illegal mining activities in the Apampram Forest Reserve in the Amansie Central District.
The Minority in Parliament also alleged that the two are engaged in illegal mining in Jacobu in the Ashanti Region.
When asked if there may be a probe Mr. Owuso Bio said, “yes, why not.”
“But we know it is not true. We know it is false because as we speak now, we have made inquiries from the regional security council and all the messages we are receiving is that there is nobody in there.”
Mr. Owuso Bio also used the interview to warn that “anyone found in any forest reserve claiming to be reclaiming the forest must be arrested immediately.”
Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, also known as Sir John, and Bernard Antwi Boasioko, also known as Bernard Antwi Boasioko have already denied the allegations.
Sir John said the only activity ongoing at the site being referred to by the minority was a reclamation exercise authorized by the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry.
Chairman Wontumi in a statement dismissed the claims saying, “the office of Chairman Wontumi wishes to state unequivocally that Mr. Antwi-Bosiako is not directly or indirectly engaged in or linked in any acts of illegal mining, neither is he engaged in any act of illegal mining in the Amansie area or in the said forest reserve, as alleged by the traditional leaders.”
Nonetheless, the Concerned Small Scale Miners Union of Ghana has called for the immediate arrest of the two and a probe into the allegations.
“We have ample evidence to prove that the very public officer into whose care the nation’s forests have been entrusted is neck deep in ravaging the bellies of some of the most virgin of forest reserves for gold, under the guise of ‘reclamation’,” a statement from the union said.
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