A Tarkwa Circuit Court presided over by Hathia Ama Manu has sentenced two Nigerians to 20 years for engaging in illegal mining (Galamsey).

The convicts, Ayodele Jackson and Benjamin Obin, were arrested at Bepoase, near Prestea in the Western Region.

The two men, who were sentenced on October 7, pleaded guilty to the charges with the explanation, stating unemployment and hunger as the reason for the act and were convicted on their plea.

They told the court that they had only been indulging in the act for about three weeks before their arrest.

The prosecutor, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Juliana Dadzie, presented the facts of the case in court, stating that two Minerals Commission personnel (Emmanuel Morrison and Bismark Mansoh) had filed a complaint against the defendants.

According to her, the two Minerals Commission staff during a routine patrol in the Prestea area spotted the accused, with about fifteen others engaging in illegal mining activities with two excavators, a washing plant and a water pumping machine at Bepoase.

Upon seeing the two officers, the miners fled, but the officers managed to apprehend the two expatriates and handed them over to the Police, with a pumping machine and one excavator control board.

The court described the circumstance under which they had entered into the illegal business as “unfortunate”, but stated that, “the country is at a point where our water bodies, especially those of us in the Western Region have been destroyed due to illegal mining.”

The Court thus said that the accused had no excuses to justify destroying the environment and were therefore sentenced. The Court ordered that after serving their sentences, the two men be deported to Nigeria.

The court also ordered that the excavator, with its control board and the water pumping machine be confiscated by the state and handed over to the Minerals Commission.