Ghana — Justice Gabriel Mate-Teye, Presiding Judge of Tamale Metropolitan Court, on Monday cautioned that the court would deal decisively with persons who flout environmental rules and regulations, especially indiscriminate bush burning.
He said bush burning was gradually becoming an annual ritual in the Northern Region, destroying property and economic trees like Shea tree and could even lead to lost of life.
“Hence forth this honorable court will deal severely with people who are found guilty of environmental offence to serve as a deterrent to others and to stop the menace. It is high time people acted responsibly to help protect the environment,” he said.
Justice Mate-Teye sounded the warning at the first hearing of nine people, arrested on the 22nd January for allegedly engaging in indiscriminate bush burning at Nyamalge along the Salaga road.
Early this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Police Service in a joint operation, arrested nine persons, comprising three adults and six juveniles, for alleged indiscriminate bush burning.
The three adults, Osman Adams, 18, a student, Latif Osman, 21, farmer and Adam Fuiseni, 20, an electrician were all burning the bush in search of rats, grass cutters and other animals.
The fire destroyed a cowpea farm worth GHc 150.00.
About 25 bicycles and one motorcycle retrieved from the offenders who were arrested and those who escaped, were confiscated.
Justice Mata-Teye expressed worry about the rate at which the environment was being depleted due to excessive bush burning, saying the economic conditions in the Northern Regions were unfavorable and that indiscriminate bush burning was escalating the poverty situation there.
He commended the Northern Regional office of the EPA for working hard to prevent bush burning in the area.
Mr. Abu Iddrisu, Northern Regional Manager of the EPA, told GNA that EPA would continue to flush out and take legal actions against all those who would destroy the environment.
He said that every year, farmers in the Upper East, Upper West and the Northern Regions lost much of their produce to bushfires and had to lean on donor support for survival.
Mr. Iddrisu said wooden electricity poles were also being destroyed by bushfires, especially in the remote areas.
“It is very sad that our Region is very poor and we are not acting responsibly to protect the environment, which we all depend on for our daily bread.”
He reminded the people of the adage: “When the last tree dies, the last man dies.”