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EPA Manager testifies against illegal miners

July 1, 2021

By Yusufu S. Bangura

Manager at Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Emmanuel During, on Wednesday, 30th June, 2021, testified against 12 accused persons who are undergoing a preliminary investigation into alleged illegal mining.

According to the police, Ahmed Alie Kamara, Osman Bangura, Papa Kamara and Musa Turay on Saturday 12th June 2021, along the Pampana River in Tonkolili District, were found undertaking an environmental project without valid Environmental Impact Assessment License.

Police also alleged that Abu Bakarr Koroma, Ginnah Gandi, Mohamed Amadu Kamara, Yusif Idrissa Kamara, Osman Conteh, Osman Kamara and Saidu Turay, on Sunday 13th June, 2021, were found undertaking an environmental project without valid Environmental Impact Assessment License.

Consequently, the accused persons were faced with two related counts of undertaking an environmental project without valid Environmental Impact Assessment License contrary to Section 23(1) of the Environment Protection Agency Act of 2008.

Prosecution witness and Manager at the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Emmanuel During, recognized the 6th and 7th accused persons in the dock and recalled the date in question.

He said on those dates, a team comprising the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), National Mineral Agency (NMA), and Office of National Security (ONS) left Freetown for Binkolo, Parampa River on a raid.

He continued that upon arrival, the team saw miners using excavators. “After serious questioning, I and the team from Freetown discovered that the illegal miners do not have Environmental Impact License. Police therefore arrested the 6th and 7th accused persons and they were later transferred to Freetown,” he explained.

The EPA manager added that the alleged illegal miners disclosed that they were locals who were finding their daily bread.

 He also revealed that the mining activity at the aforementioned community poses serious threat to the environment.

He also spoke of health risk in the communities where mining activities were taking place, adding that the excavators which were found in possession of the accused persons were currently with the police.

In his cross-examination, defense counsel, Lamin Joseph Kamara, enquired as to the names of the mining site where those illegal activities were taking place, but the witness responded that the mining sites can only have names when they are registered.

He also indicated that some of the excavators were registered with the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) while some were not.

He made efforts to convince the Magistrate that his clients were merely engaging in farming activities.

Defense counsel renewed his application for bail. He also mentioned that the 8th accused person had health complications for which he brought medical report to court.

ASP Daboh and ASP Joan Bull are prosecuting the matter.

However, Magistrate Kekura said he will only consider bail after he would have heard more evidence. He sent all accused persons on remand at the Male Correctional Centre and adjourned the matter to Monday 5th July 2021.

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