Sierra Leone Police have arrested, and charged to court two Ghanaian nationals for allegedly engaging in illegal mining in the northern part of the country, court records show.

Edison Hogo and Moses Saba, the two Ghanaian nationals, appeared in court Monday. Police records said both were engaged in illegal mining along the Pampana river in Tonkolili district. They were reportedly arrested on Jan. 21, by a team of police officers, according to court records. And they’ve been in custody since.

The two men were arraigned before Magistrate Mustapha Brima Jah of the Judiciary of Sierra Leone on two counts each of conspiracy to defraud the Sierra Leone government, and undertaking an environmental project without valid environmental impact assessment license.

At the arrangement, the two Ghanaians didn’t enter a plea because it was a preliminary hearing – being held at the magistrate court level.

The team of police officers who made the arrests was headed by northeast region operations officer Assistant Superintendent of Police Augustine Kargbo, court records show.

Upon their arrests, the two Ghanaians were then taken to the Mena regional police station in Makeni city.

“Both Hogo and Saba on diverse dates between 2021 and January 21, 2022, at the Pampana river in Mayata village, Kholifa Rowalla chiefdom, conspired together with other unknown persons to defraud the government of Sierra Leone by undertaking a mining project without license,” the charge sheet read in part.

Police said that the team of law enforcement personnel were along the Pampana river in Tonkolili district, when they found Hogo and Saba – in the same area – engaging in illegal mining at Mayata village.

Upon investigation, police say, the men identified themselves as Ghanian nationals, and that they’re in the country to do mining. But police say the two men contravened the laws of Sierra Leone, especially section 23 of the environmental protection agency Act of 2008. This’s because, police say, the Ghanaians weren’t with valid mining licenses; and they also undertook an environmental project without a valid environmental assessment license.

During their arraignment, defense lawyers Osman Kamara and Ibrahim Kargbo, pleaded for bail on their clients behalf. And Jah granted each a bail of Le100,000,000M, and two sureties. The sureties, Jah said, must be residents of Makeni city.

The two Ghanaians, the magistrate said, must also surrender all traveling documents to the judiciary – including their passports. Sgt. Bai Koroma (7742) prosecuted the matter. The matter was adjourned to Feb. 15.