There is an uneasy calm in the military camps as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Maj Gen T Oppong-Peprah has reportedly failed to “fish out” a military whistleblower who revealed that some of the commanding officers owned illegal gold mines “Galamsey”, and were ordering soldiers around like errand boys to guard the mines, Whatsup News has gathered.
The search has been on since January 2021 when the COAS convened an emergency “durbar” with personnel of Headquarters Central Command at the OB Akwa Auditorium to address the speculations that he was personally involved in galamsey, particularly in the Tontokrom in the Manso Forest of the Ashanti Region which allowed him to stockpile gold bars in his office.
In January, JoyNews and some other media organisations had accompanied members of the military taskforce against illegal mining to go chase out some galamsey operators, but when they got to the contentious mine in Tontokrom, another unit of soldiers confronted the official deployment in what almost turned into a shoot-out.
In their anger, the new unit said to be guarding the illegal miners, snatched and smashed video cameras of JoyNews.
Meanwhile, in mid-January 2021, an individual claiming to be a military whistleblower had sent a viral message alleging that the illegal mining activities that were discovered at Tontokrom was an operation co-owned by the COAS and the General Officer Commanding (GOC), Brig-Gen JA Aphour and Chinese collaborators.
The anonymous officer, writing under the pseudonym, ‘Sgt Spears’ has penned an open reaction to the moves by the Army top brass to direct blame to the junior rank officers deployed to the site to guard the illegal Chinese miners.
Sgt Spears, alleges in a 3-page write-up that the illegal mines in question are eleven (11) and that they are co-owned by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and the Chinese illegal miners.
Whatsup News is gathering that indeed, the COAS was aware of a military deployment to Tontokrom, but not all the armed men in military or desert uniforms in the encounter at the Tontokrom were soldiers. Some of the men claimed to be a taskforce working for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The COAS promised to confront the EPA over the matter, but it is still unclear if he did and whether the impersonation issue had been resolved.
Curiously, when it turned out that some of the soldiers deployed to Tontokrom were present during the January durbar organised by Maj Gen T Oppong-Peprah at the OB Akwa Auditorium at the Command Headquarters, he ushered them into a closed-door meeting. Whatever was discussed in that meeting remains a mystery.
Others were not present at the durbar because they were reportedly on leave.
According to the anonymous whistleblower, about 35 soldiers were deployed in June 2019 and that when they go there, they were virtually turned into armed servants guarding Chinese galamseyers.
The whistleblower has said his unit was sent to Tontokrom “…only for us to guard Chinese people doing illegal miner. my last deployment to TONTOKROM was 23rd Sept 2020 to 28th Dec 2020, we were 35 soldiers plus one officer, 30 soldiers, from Central Command HQ and 5 soldiers from 4 BN of Infantry.”
According to him, their leader was one LT. Owusu Ansah, Adjutant at the Army Central Command.
“We are been used as slaves in the forest as we have been told by a man called Mr DONALD that the COAS and GOC are shareholders of the Galamsey with the China people. So if we work hard we shall go on operations and get our promotions early,” the alleged soldier revealed.
He adds that they are paid Ghc20 a day on the guard duties and that they are usually paid by one Lt. Owusu Ansah.