Busted Galamsey Chief, 3 Yemenis Arraigned Before Court
…As Minerals C’ssion Bares Teeth
The chief of Asomdwe, a suburb of Akyem Oda, Nana Baffour Akyeampem, who was arrested, together with three Yemeni nationals, for allegedly engaging in illegal mining, notoriously called “galamsey,” has been arraigned before court.
The accused person and his accomplices, namely Hussein Ali, Muhammed Omar and Salleh Ali, were arraigned before the Koforidua Circuit Court ‘B’, presided over by Her Honour Matilda Ribeiro, on Thursday, May 11, 2023.
This was after the Akyem Oda police, handling the case, finally forwarded the docket to the Attorney General Office in Koforidua for prosecution.
But the four accused persons, who looked sober, pleaded not guilty to the charges, and were granted bail in the sum of GH₵ 300,000 with two sureties of which one is to be justified.
In addition, they were asked by the court to report to the police every Tuesday and Friday in the week.
The Yemeni nationals, who were marked “accused person (A 3, 4, 5),” were also directed to deposit their passports with the court’s registrar in Koforidua.
The case has been adjourned to Monday, May 22, 2023.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Minerals Commission, Martin Kwaku Ayisi, said the commission will keep eyes on the case to ensure it travels the long haul.
The chief and his accomplices, it would be recalled, were arrested by a combined team of Minerals Commission and Artisanal Small-Scale Miners (ASM) taskforce on Monday, May 1, 2023,at Asomdwe, a suburb of Akyem Oda, while briskly engaging in illegal mining.
Claims are that the Yemeni nationals are engineers, who were only installing Macon SD-400 gold Wash Plant and other equipment for a yet-to-be commissioned Oda Community Mining.
ButThe Anchor’s checks at the Minerals Commission revealed no records of the site where the suspects were mining at the time of the arrest.
One Kwabena Kankam, believed to be the Abontidonhene of Akyem Kotoku, whose name came up during interrogation, and is alleged to be the owner of the mining concession is yet to show up, even though he was invited by the police.
At the moment, mining equipment, such as excavators and pill loaders, belonging to the suspects, which were impounded, is in the custody of the Oda police station.
Mr.Ayisi said apart from himself keeping an eye on the case, he has informed the Eastern Regional Minister, Seth Acheampong, to also keep a close eye on the case so that the suspects, including the chief, are not left off the hook.
The CEO said a lot could be achieved if such cases are followed through by ensuring the persons involved are punished, if found to have offended the law, to deter others who may be harbouring the intention of going into illegal mining.
He said that, even though some chiefs are complicit in the fight against illegal mining, there are some patriotic ones who abhor the act and are doing everything within their means to curb it from happening in their communities.
Speaking on an Accra-based television, the CEO said, “There are particular chiefs: one in the Eastern Region, one in the Western Region, and I think in the Upper East. They have made it that anybody that comes with documentation or now we send them gazette notice, they will call me.
For instance, Okyehene, he will never allow anybody to work there until he has spoken to me. He will call me, Ayisi, I have seen this please come over I want to understand.”
An impressed Mr.Ayisi continued, “Lovely chiefs. Some of them are doing well. Even there are chiefs who send us intelligence that some of them are even afraid to talk to them [illegal miners] or confront them.
“They will even come to the office [tell me] this is the area, so I have told you then he goes back. We then pass on to the appropriate security institution to pick the intelligence and then they will strike. So, a lot of the chiefs are against illegal mining and they have been helping the government.”
The Minerals Commission boss, who doubles as a chief at Warawara in the Oti Region, said chiefs can play very important roles in the fight against illegal mining, but it becomes devastating when in the cause of clamping down on illegal miners, some of these chiefs who are supposed to be revered and know better are caught in the thick of affairs, both in the past and present.
He argued that if these chiefs, district chief executives and other stakeholders work hand-in-hand, a lot can be achieved.
But regrettably, he said, the illegal mining is now akin to the illicit drug trade, apparently because it is very attractive and involves very influential kingpins who finance their activities.
“You see, I want you to see things like the drug trade. I don’t work at the Narcotic Control Authority but the little we have read, the situation in Mexico and the Colombia and then the billions the US government has pumped into that area, it shows that it is a whole network,” he explained.
He said in the fight against illegal mining, “It involves the judges, the security a whole lot. So for things like this to thrive, clearly people who matter, may be to use the word kingpins one way or the other, some chief, some big man somewhere in the villages it is difficult for people to speak up unless they speak to journalists.
“There is a particular chief in somewhere in the Western Region, a former soldier, he says no galamsey. The place is very rich. You dare not. He has told everybody if you come I will gun you down or whatever he is in control, he said no I will not allow you people here!”
“So, some chiefs are wonderful, they are doing the work on their own and they are getting the support from the assemblies and co. Some DCEs lovely, they are doing their work; they will not allow you, but some chiefs, some big men, some influential people, some elders are involved.”
Mr. Ayisi said the presence of these Yemenis is not even safe for Ghana, considering the fact that they come from a war-torn country.
He argued that the suspects can easily invite other country men or others from other countries in a similar state and before you know, “they have struck,” even though he said he is yet to know if the suspects had guns as at the time of their arrest.
He apportioned some blame on the police for making the fight of illegal mining a little bit difficult.
According to him, in rather regrettable circumstances, when public-spirited persons find the need to report people indulging in illegal mining to the police, the officers leak the information to these arrested persons and then later when they are released they go about threatening these informants.
In a similar interview on Joy FM’s news analysis show, NewsFile, on Saturday May 6, Mr.Ayisi called on all stakeholders, especially the media, the judiciary, as well as the security agencies, to play their individual roles so that suspects are prosecuted to the letter to serve as a deterrent to others.
He implored the media to follow through the Oda-Asomdwe case. He said the punishment for illegal mining is punitive enough, adding all that needs to be done is for the law to be applied.