Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM) has reacted to the arrest of three persons accused of posing as military personnel and extorting money at mine sites in the Manso area of the Ashanti Region.
The association has also criticised the military and other security agencies fighting illegal mining for undermining taskforce members formed by the association a few months ago and inaugurated by the Deputy Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Mireku Duker, to contribute to the fight of the menace.
Last Wednesday, Collins Anim, Obeng Daniel and Edward Akwasi Anokye were arrested at a mining site in the Manso Nkwanta enclave for allegedly extorting money from some miners.
Ashanti Regional security liaison, Kofi Arthur (rtd), confirmed that they were arrested by the National Task Force deployed to check illegal mining.
According to the Association, it was unfortunate for the three persons members of the taskforce to be accused of harassment and extortion without anyone hearing their side of the story.
At a press briefing on Monday, the communications director of the GNASSM, Alhassan Abdul Razak, indicated "... we are very much aware that some individuals within some of our security institutions who are playing various roles in the illegal mining fight are not happy about the formation of our taskforce."
But, "we wish to emphasise that we are not here to deprive anybody of his daily bread.We are rather here as investors determined to prevent the bad nuts in the industry from engaging in illegal mining and prevent sanctions from being imposed on all mining investors."
Mr Razak wondered why "three persons were paraded instead of five who were arrested", saying that the other two were the cameraman of the association, Prince Amo and AlhassanAcquah, who was visited by the accused.
He explained that the association received a report from a member of GNASSM (Acquah) that his concession in the Manso-Watereso- Adeja area in the Amansie South District had been invaded by illegal miners.
FROM KINGSLEY E.HOPE, WATERESO