From: Francis Npong, Tamale
The presiding Magistrate of the Tamale District Court, His Worship Gabriel Mate-Teye has blamed rampant bushfire, wood logging and charcoal burning on Ghana Police Service.
He said that the continuous burning of bush and indiscriminate felling of trees was because of the failure of the police personnel to enforce strictly anti-bushfire law.
He described as disgusting the failure of the police to deal ruthlessly with organized rat hunters in the region who were burning bushes without recourse to danger it poses to environment and property .
His Worship Mate-Teye who expressed worry about the rampant bushfire, commercial charcoal burning and wood logging activities in the region said that the process was influencing desertification and drought, and posed serious threat to food security and must be stopped.
The presiding judge said this after slapping a fine of 120 Ghana cedis each on two of the nine rat hunters who pleaded guilty to for unlawful and negligently causing damage contrary to section 12 of the 172 Act 29/60 of the criminal code who appeared before him to answer these charges brought against them by the officials of the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA).
The Magistrate stated that the rampant bushfire and environmental pollution could be minimized if the police personnel together with officials of the Environmental Protection Agency enforce environmental laws to the later.
“Often times organized rat hunters who set fire to the bush pass by the police who did nothing to prevent them from going into the buses to cause havoc to environment and farm produces”, he stated.
The judge said that civil crime would have been reduced to the minimum if the police were serious and strictly enforces and educate people on the laws as enshrined in the law books of the country.
He warned that his outfit would deal drastically with individuals brought before him and charge with bushfire, tree logging and charcoal burning offences.
The Magistrate commended the officials of the EPA for resisting influences and pressure from opinion leaders, political leaders and chiefs to bring the case before him for trail.
He promised to give prominence to cases related to environment and encourage EPA and police to join forces to deal with issues of bushfire, wood logging and charcoal burning.
The nine persons include six juveniles were arrested by the Tamale police somewhere in January 2011 for setting fire to the bush that destroyed a 36 acre cowpea farm at Nyamelga, a farming community on the Salaga road.
Though the pleas of the six juveniles were not taken the court however granted to reappear in court on the 16th March 2011 to enable the court making arrangement to hear the case of these under aged children in camera as stipulated by the law.
Two of remaining three pleaded guilty to the offence and would be sentenced on the 21st when they reappear before it.