Mr. Richard Addo says his arrest was unlawful
The Special Monitoring and Evaluation Team on Illegal Mining, is set to petition the Local Government, as well as Lands and Natural Resources Ministries and the Inspector General of Police, over the arrest of its leader in the Ashanti Region.
Richard Addo has fingered the Amansie West District Chief Executive, New Patriotic Party (NPP) executives and Manso Nkwanta Police Commander, whom he accused conspiring to arrest him over a Chinese and illegal miner’s missing pistol.
He claimed his "...arrest was pre-meditated. I had some calls; I was told already that one Abu Bonsrah, Constituency chairman of Edubia had already told everybody that I would be framed up and get me arrested so it was well calculated".
He says his detention can only be an act to intimidate the monitoring team in order to promote illegal mining in the area.
Mr. Addo who is also Chief Executive of Volunteers against Environmental Degradation, was detained for days by the Ashanti Regional Police Command for failing to produce a missing pistol.
The gun is said to belong to a Chinese illegal miner who was arrested by the team at Adagya near Watreso.
"Technically, those who are supposed to do the search is the police. How come that I will go and do search? So I asked the security man [police]; he testified over there that I never entered the room. But they insisted if I don't produce the gun then they will detain me," he said.
Mr. Addo says he was arrested on May 7, 2018, the same day he had led a nine-member team, including five police personnel, on an operation.
He says their efforts had led to arrest of two Chinese illegal miners and two local collaborators and seizure of a vehicle, water pumping machine and excavators used by the illegal miners.
"It took the intervention of the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu Bio and Ken Ashigbey, the leader of Media Coalition Against Illegal Mining; they intervened to see my release, other than that I would have been languishing in cells," he told Nhyira FM.
Mr. Addo who has since been granted police bail tells Nhyira FM he has evidence to back his claim.
"We will write to the IGP for him to investigate some of these things and then call on the Local Government Ministry to ensure that some of these DCEs who are thwarting the effort of the government against fighting these illegal mining are removed from there".
According to Mr. Addo, the action of the officials has contributed to flourishing illegal mining activities in many communities in the area.
District Chief Executive for Amansie West, William Asante Bediako, however, denies the allegation.
"I never lodged any complaint with the police to arrest him on anything because he has not wronged me, if he was going about trying to prevent people to mine illegally."
Mr. Asante however wants his accuser to seek redress from appropriate quaters over his concerns.
"Let us not encourage this military type of people going round saying they arresting illegal miners.
How many acres have been reclaimed since we all said we all said we were going to clamp down on galamsey?
If he claims he is an environmentalist, how many acres has he been able to urge people to reclaim?
You know people come around and their intension is to make money; extort money from people and sometimes I am not happy about that," he said.
It is unclear what has happened to the four people arrested by the monitoring team, as police have been reluctant to comment on the issue.