Tipper trucks were burnt by Operation Vanguard soldiers – Minister
The Northern Regional Minister, Salifu Saeed, has distanced the Northern Regional Security Council from the actions of military personnel who are said to have set ablaze some earthmoving equipment belonging to sand winners in the Kumbugu District.
A contingent of military personnel set fire to 14 tipper trucks and an excavator used for sand winning in the Dalun River, a tributary of the White Volta in the Kumbungu District of the Northern Region.
According to Mr. Saeed, the soldiers were members of what is primarily known as an anti-illegal mining taskforce, Operation Vanguard.
“What I know from the intelligence sources is that the action was being taken by Operation Vanguard and Operation Vanguard is a national decision and if they (Minority MPs) want details with regards to what really informed the decision and the action, they should contact the Defence Minister, who is the key lead person,” he said on Eyewitness News.
He explained further that Operation Vanguard’s operations were not within the remit of the Northern Region REGSEC.
This notwithstanding, he said the REGSEC was “working around the issues and we are still analysing the situation and we will take measures that will sort of fix the issues.”
Following the incident over the weekend, National Democratic Congress MPs from the Northern Region said they wanted the Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, summoned before Parliament to explain why some military personnel allegedly set ablaze the heavy duty equipment.
The Minority MPs are of the view that, the military personnel abused the law by burning down the equipment, instead of seizing them through a court order.
Attempting to explain why the soldiers would have gone to such lengths, Mr. Saeed said the soldiers had now classified the sand winners as a security threat because of the possibility of a major water shortage.
Sand winning is a major problem in the area as evidenced by the threat to the water pumping station at Dalun which risks being shut down.
Mr. Saeed recounted that the REGSEC had given the sand winners several warninga to leave the place as far back as December 2017 but to no avail.
“I warned them, I gave them an ultimatum in December that they should move out of the site. We used a diplomatic approach because we wanted them to abide by the law and also consider the situation,” the Minister stated.