Some 19 persons claiming to be national security operatives have been arrested in the Atewa forest in the Eastern Region mining gold.
The camouflaged suspects invaded the reserve in Akyem-Akateng with a Toyota Land Cruiser under the guise of embarking on an operation to clamp down on illegal small-scale miners (galamseyers) on the dawn of Tuesday, 4 May 2021.
Despite being armed, locals in the area and forest guards resisted their entry by deflating the tyres of their V8.
The 19 brings to 65, the number of alleged security operatives arrested for being involved in galamsey in the past two weeks.
The suspects have been moved from the Asamankese District Police Command to the police headquarters in the Eastern Region.
Meanwhile, civil society group OccupyGghana has said the fight against galamsey by the Akufo-Addo government died the day Chinese ‘galamsey queen’ Aisha Huang was let to go scot-free by the state after her arrest.
In a statement insisting the government enforce anti-galamsey laws to the letter, OccupyGhana said the government’s “epileptic and faltering fight [against] galamsey gives the impression that it is unwilling to follow and apply the law”.
“When Aisha Huang was first arrested, she was charged with some ludicrous, risible and insignificant administrative breaches of immigration regulations”, OG decried, adding: “It took a protest and a petition by OccupyGhana® on 16th May 2017 for her to be charged with the proper offences under the Minerals and Mining Act, which, as we will show, provides for serious punishment for illegal mining”.
The group said it believes that Aisha Huang’s “quiet and hurried deportation by the government was to avoid subjecting her to the full rigours of the law”.
“We insist that that unfortunate truncation of the judicial process sounded the death knell to the galamsey fight”, it noted.
Read OccupyGhana’s full statement below:
4TH MAY 2021
OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT
GOVERNMENT, APPLY THE LAW ON ILLEGAL MINING!
OccupyGhana® is shocked to see pictures and films in which equipment allegedly being used in galamsey operations and apparently seized by security officials, have been set on fire.
While these dramatic optics might have the support of some, we think that it is a brazen illegality that will only exacerbate the situation and not help in the fight against galamsey.
The government’s epileptic and faltering fight [against] galamsey gives the impression that it is unwilling to follow and apply the law.
When Aisha Huang was first arrested, she was charged with some ludicrous, risible and insignificant administrative breaches of immigration regulations.
It took a protest and a petition by OccupyGhana® on 16th May 2017 for her to be charged with the proper offences under the Minerals and Mining Act, which, as we will show, provides for serious punishment for illegal mining.
We believe that her quiet and hurried deportation by the government was to avoid subjecting her to the full rigours of the law.
We insist that that unfortunate truncation of the judicial process sounded the death knell to the galamsey fight.
But the law in the Minerals and Mining Act is clear. There is a fine and imprisonment between 15 and 25 years for each of the following crimes:
buying or selling minerals without a licence or authority; mining in breach of the law; abetting any breach of the mining law; contracting a non-Ghanaian to provide mining support services; abetting the breach of the mining laws by a foreigner; fabricating or manufacturing floating platforms or other equipment to be used for mining in our water bodies; and providing an excavator for an illegal mining operation.
The Act further provides that a non-Ghanaian who illegally mines or abets illegal mining attracts a large fine and imprisonment between 20 and 25 years, and shall be deported AFTER serving the sentence. This is what should have been applied to Aisha Huang.
Also, and of particular importance to us, is the legal provision that equipment used in any of these offences is required to be first seized and kept in police custody. Then, when the person using the equipment for the illegal mining activity is convicted, the court will order the forfeiture of the equipment the state. Then the Minister has 60 days within which to allocate the equipment to a state institution. There is absolutely no legal room for simply torching the equipment. It is illegal and must stop forthwith.
We think that all the efforts to end illegal mining will not achieve anything until we resolve to simply enforce the law. If the security agencies make arrests and the law is not applied, it weakens their resolve and says to all that we are not serious about ending this menace. And the judiciary should need no encouragement to try cases with dispatch so that Ghanaians can see results in real-time. It cannot be business as usual.
We have two simple messages for the government –(1) Galamsey is illegal: the fight against it cannot be based on illegality and, (2) If you want to win the fight against Galamsey, APPLY THE LAW..
Still in the service of God and Country