Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, has justified the recent burning of 14 tipper trucks, an excavator and a motorbike by Operation Vanguard in the Kumbugu District of the Northern Region.
According to him, the action was undertaken by a backup troop of the Operation Vanguard task-force to bring to an end the menace of illegal sand winning.
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.
Tamale tipper truck owners demand probe into burning of equipment
Responding to a statement from the Member of Parliament for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak on the incident which took place last week, Dominic Nitiwul 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 said on the floor of Parliament.”
The Minority caucus in Parliament had earlier stated that it will support a court action by the affected persons against the state.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said the burning of the said tipper trucks was unlawful.
“The wicked burning of those 14 tipper trucks is excessive and extrajudicial and therefore legally unjustifiable and untenable, and we will pursue this matter to its utmost and logical conclusion. Nothing will stop us from asking for adequate compensation for the affected persons as due process was not respected and upheld,” he said.
“Rights have been disrespected and rights have been breached. The right to own property and the right to own a tipper truck for the purpose of livelihood has been undermined.”