Thirty two alleged illegal miners accused of parading themselves as National Security operatives have been remanded by the Koforidua Circuit Court.

The court, presided over by Ms Mercy Quartey, made the decision after she dismissed a bail application by their lawyers.

Police prosecutors had earlier urged the court to remand them to assist with investigations.

The accused persons were said to have engaged in illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey, in the Akenteng Forest Reserve in the Eastern Region.

They were arrested at Akenteng, near Osinease, in the Eastern Region by the youth of the area, whose brutal handling of the gang was only tampered by the intervention of the police.

Not guilty

The accused persons include George Asante, Kweku Frimpong, Alfred Kyei, Yaw Opoku, Richard Nartey, Paul Osei Kuffour, Dominic Beblie, Samuel Kofi Edusei, Silas Boakye Gyan, Joseph Oduro Asare, Mukaila Attah, Stephen Opoku, Michael Quansah, Derrick Adu Kwakye, Razark Suleman, Stephen Kofi Felan, Dominic Ghansah, Robert Martey Tetteh, Eric Addei, Yakubu Mohammed, and Benlord Ababio.

The rest are Adam Dakurugu, Kwame Isaac, Joe Acquah, Emmanuel Arhin, Samuel Asiedu Gyamfra, David Akakpo, Ebenezer Boateng, Joseph Kwaku Gyamfi, Fuseini Alhassan, Alhassan Asibi and Gabriel Dormate.

They have pleaded not guilty to conducting reconnaissance for minerals without lawful authority contrary to Section 23(1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) and Section 106(a) of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703).

Initial case

Eleven of them were initially charged before the Kaneshie District Court in Accra last Monday with the possession of firearms without lawful excuse contrary to Section 192 of Act 29.

The Kaneshie District Court, presided over by Ms Ama Adomako Kwakye, however, declined to hear the case on the basis that the case was not proper in law.

According to the magistrate, the prosecution failed to produce a written consent from the Attorney-General (A-G) as required by law for the case of possession of firearms without lawful excuse to be prosecuted.

The magistrate, therefore, decided not to rule on a bail application by lawyers for the accused persons, or remand them as requested by the prosecution.

It was after the ruling by the District Court that the police took the accused persons to the Koforidua Circuit Court on new charges to seek for remand.

Prosecution facts

It is the case of the prosecution that they allegedly carried themselves as National Security operatives, and were engaged in illegal mining in the Akenteng Forest Reserve, while terrorizing villages in the catchment area of the forest reserve.

“It was also established that the accused persons, as part of their unlawful activities, threatened, demanded and seized unspecified kilos of gold and huge sums of money from some small scale miners in the name of National Security,” the facts said.