The Environment Protection Agency Sierra Leone (EPASL) has on Wednesday 1st February 2023 secured a verdict against two foreign nationals for illegal mining operations, contrary to section 24 subsections (1) of EPASL ACT, No. 15 of 2022.
It is reported that Magistrate Alpha S Ndoleh in Koidu City Kono district has sentenced two foreign nationals, Mr. Kalu Paul and Mr. David Obonnaya to 3 years in prison after they pleaded guilty and were to pay a joint fine of 150,000 new Leones.
The Magistrate further ordered the two to; reclaim the mined-out areas within 1 week, and for them to be prohibited from undertaking any mining activities in Sierra Leone.
According to particulars of the case, the two were each arraigned before the Magistrate on two count charges including undertaking mining activities set out in the first schedule without a valid Environmental Impact Assessment License issued by EPASL and Causes to undertake mining activities set out in the first scheduled without a valid Environmental Impact Assessment License issued by EPASL.
Before delivering his judgment, Magistrate Ndoleh pointed out that under his watchful eye, no one will flout the laws of Sierra Leone and go free.
He expressed optimism that the verdict will serve as a strong deterrent to others that were equally engaged in similar illegal mining activities in the country.
The Agency was represented by Barrister Halalo Allen, Manager of the Legal and Compliance Department of EPASL who had concluded his case the very day it was presented before the court and was now left for the two convicted persons to make their submissions.
Dr. Bondi Gevao, Executive Chairman of the Agency expressed excitement over the verdict and called for a collective approach to strengthening environmental governance.
He recalled that Sierra Leone was faced with pressing environmental challenges and called for a multi-sectorial approach to addressing what he refers to as environmental threats.