National Democratic Congress [NDC] Member of Parliament for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak, has criticized Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul for justifying the recent burning of 14 tipper trucks, an excavator and a motorbike by members of the Operation Vanguard task-force in the area.
About a fortnight ago, a contingent of armed military personnel set fire to the equipment used for sand winning in the Dalun River, a tributary of the White Volta.
The action was allegedly taken by the military after several warnings to sand winners to stop their illegal activity close to the river yielded no results.
Mr. Nitiwul had indicated on the floor of Parliament that action was undertaken to bring an end to the menace of sand winning.
He said the soldiers had to resort to such an action to deal with the recalcitrant illegal miners.
“Their aim was to arrest the illegal miners, illegal sand winners and prosecute them like they have been doing elsewhere, but each time the people run away and they even dug more. Even those who were legally given the license were asked to stop and they have, but in this case it was worse off because they did not even have any permit to go there.”
“They were operating illegally. They did not have the permit. The Military went there for the fifth time and decided that they were sending a very strong signal to anyone who decides that they will take the law into their own hands,” he explained on the floor of Parliament.
Mr. Muburak, in a rebuttal on Eyewitness News condemned the move, saying the Minister failed to resort to due processes in bringing sand winning activities in the area to an end.
The MP believes the move was disrespectful to the affected persons and constitutes a violation of their human rights.
“What has happened is an egregious violation of human rights of people who are working hard to fend for their families. It was a complete disrespect for the people in the area because one would think that the chiefs, who are custodians of the land will be consulted in any matter that had to do with a military operation in the area. Nothing like that happened!”
“Also, the Minister of Defence had challenged persons who were unhappy about the move to go to court, but I am wondering whether he knew that we had laws in the country before sending the military to go and destroy the 14 tipper trucks. Why did he not resort to the laws that he asked others to resort to?”
Mr. Mubarak said the affected persons will soon file a suit challenging the decision, saying “We are engaging lawyers and you know that in such a case one has to gather a water tight case.”
“We believe that this is not the way to run a country especially in the 21st century. They are taking us into the dark age where things were done arbitrarily,” the MP added.