The Goaso Magistrate Court has refused to grant bail to 17 people who were brought before it for engaging in illegal activities in the forest reserves in Goaso and its environs in the Ahafo Region.
They were charged for engaging in illegal chain sawing, unlawful entry into the various forest reserves and possession of patrol and matches into the forest.
The suspects, who pleaded not guilty, have all been remanded in prison custody and are expected to re-appear before the court on Monday, April 1, 2019.
The court, presided over by Justice Kwaku Twumasi, refused counsel’s plea for bail with an explanation that it was premature for the suspects to be granted bail.
The families and friends of the suspects besieged the Goaso Police Station where the suspects were kept and followed them up when they were later sent to the court for their maiden appearance.
Some of the suspects’ families were seen crying after the court refused to grant them bail.
Fact of the case
The prosecutor, Chief Inspector P.K. Abokyi, told the court that the suspects were arrested for engaging in illegal logging and other illegal activities in the various forest reserves.
According to him, a joint military and Rapid Response Team (RRT), in collaboration with forest guards, embarked on a three-day operation within the various forest reserves in a bid to clamp down on activities of illegal chainsaw operators.
Chief Inspector Abokyi said in the process, the team arrested 17 people and handed them to the police for necessary action to be taken against them.
Meanwhile, the Goaso District Manager of the Forest Services Division (FSD), Mr Godfred Quashigah, has indicated that his division together with its stakeholders had launched an operation, dubbed: “Operation search, arrest and prosecute”, to help stamp out all illegal activities in the forest reserves.
He told the Daily Graphic that two weeks ago, the division lost more than 100 acres of forest due to illegal chainsaw operators using candles and matches to operate at night.
According to him, the illegal chainsaw operators were now engaged in their activities deep in the night with the assistance of candles and matches.
Mr Quashigah said as a result of frequent special exercises to curb the illicit timber racketeering, about 80 per cent of the illegal activities had been reduced in the various forest reserves.
He stressed that the division would not allow selfish people to destroy the forest reserves, adding that last year the division planted more than 400 acres of various species of tree seedlings.