Source: Daily Graphic
The police at Twifo Praso in the Central Region have been accused of engaging in illegal galamsey operations.
Although the police have denied the allegation, the President of the Atti Mokwa Traditional Council, Nana Kwesi Kenin and the District Chief Executive, Mr Bossman Osei Hyiaman, insist that allegations of police involvement in illegal mining operations were rife in the town.
“I have heard that the police are involved in these galamsey operations and that has been a problem,” Nana Kenin told a high-powered government and security delegation to the town yesterday.
Mr Hyiaman suggested the transfer of all policemen in the town, since some of them were said to be involved in illegal mining operations.
The delegation, led by the Central Regional Minister, Mr Samuel Sarpong, and including the Director-General of Police Operations, Commissioner of Police (COP) Mr John Kudalor, was in the town to help calm nerves after two alleged illegal miners drowned on Friday evening after an alleged police clamp down on illegal miners.
Some of the policemen have also been accused of operating private boats to engage in illegal activities and the proceeds collected at the end of each day. But the police have insisted that the two deceased persons were escaping police arrest after a swoop on a criminal gang at their hideout.
In response to the news of the death of the two persons, the youth of the town allegedly attacked the police station and succeeded in releasing nine suspects in custody.
Five of the fugitive suspects have since been re-arrested. In view of the contrasting stories, Mr Sarpong has set up a committee to investigate the allegations and report to the Regional Co-ordinating Council within a week.
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Mohammed Ahmed Alhassan, has also set up another committee to investigate the issue.
Calm has, however, been restored to the town after more than 100 policemen have been deployed to the community to deal with the infraction.
Briefing the regional minister, the assembly member for the Bimpongagya Electoral Area near Twifo Praso, where the incident occurred, Mr Ringo Gottah, said he had information last Friday, that some policemen had gone to the community to clamp down on illegal miners.
He said he asked the District Police Commander, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Nana Ofori, about the police operation and the commander confirmed knowledge of the exercise.
According to him, eyewitnesses said when the illegal miners saw the police, they tried to swim across the Pra River but one of them was shot, while another drowned.
He said when the bodies of the two were washed to the banks of the river last Sunday, some of the youth took the dead bodies to the Twifo Praso Police Station and ransacked the police station, destroying documents and other valuables in the process.
“They also set suspects in the cells free,” he added.
For his part, Mr Sarpong said the committee would investigate whether the police exercise was legal, whether policemen were engaged in illegal mining and whether the deceased were shot.
He also visited the community and the police station to ascertain the extent of damage.
He urged all parties to remain calm and ensure that peace prevailed in the area. Mr Kudalor commended the police team for maintaining order and urged the police to maintain peace and ensure public order.
He cautioned them to use weapons responsibly.