Mr Justice Yaw Apau, Sole Commissioner of the Judgement Debt Commission, on Wednesday urged the Minerals Commission to tackle illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey, to help prevent further environmental degradation.
He said many a time, instead of Ghanaians looking at realities on the ground; they allow politics to interfere with efforts to rid the nation of galamsey activities.
Justice Apau made the remarks at the Commission’s sitting in Accra, when Dr Toni Aubynn, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Minerals Commission, appeared before it to present accounts of outstanding claims against the institution.
Dr Aubynn said the Minerals Commission is the constitutionally mandated body in Ghana responsible for the regulation and management of the utilization of the mineral resources.
He said the Commission also issues licenses to mining, sand winning, and quarrying companies, and also ensures compliance with Ghana’s mining and mineral laws and regulation through monitoring.
He said the Commission grants license to small-scale miners, but these might sometime indulge in galamsey activities or be illegally operating outside their areas of concession.
Justice Apau wanted to know from the CEO the difference between the Minerals Commission and the Chamber of Mines.
In response, the CEO explained that the Chamber of Mines is the main industry association in Ghana, declaring that the Chamber represents the collective interests of companies involved in mineral exploration in Ghana.
The Sole Commissioner further asked Dr Aubynn of the origin of the word “galamsey”.
The CEO observed that galamsey is a corrupted word which means “gather and sell in defiance of authority.”
Dr Aubynn recounted that during national elections period, parliamentary candidates of opposition parties often promise galamsey operators that they will legalize it once they come to power, only to win votes.
He advised politicians to desist from such act, adding that “I always tell the parliamentarians that we have to solve the issue together now, or face it forever.”
Mr Kofi Dometi Sokpo, counsel for the Commission, asked the CEO whether there were outstanding claims against his institution in terms of compensations and services rendered by companies and individuals; and if they also have claims against other institutions.
Dr Aubynn stated that as far as their records were concerned, there were no such issues at stake.
Other state institutions that appeared at the sitting to present information on outstanding claims against them were, the Bank of Ghana, the Bureau of National Investigations and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
The Bank of Ghana was represented by Mr Nana Egyapong, Schedule Officer for Government Payments, and Saviour Kudze of the Legal Department.
After seeking for clarification on the terms of reference of the subpoena, they asked for an adjournment.
The Commission has since granted their request and they are to re-appear before it on Wednesday, May 28.
Mr Sokpo said the Ministry of Education, which was also supposed to appear before it, had requested that it be re-scheduled to appear on June 11.
The Commission adjourned sitting to Thursday, May 15.
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