The Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo has justified the government’s decision to discontinue the prosecution of a Chinese national, Aisha Huang, nicknamed ‘galamsey queen’ who was found to be openly engaged in illegal mining in the country and deported her.
According to him, jailing her in Ghana will not have solved the country’s economic problems.
He made the comments at the government’s recent town hall meeting in the US in response to a question from a participant at the program who sought to know why the government deported the Chinese national instead of jailing her in accordance with Ghanaian laws.
Osafo Maafo in his response stressed Ghana’s diplomatic ties with China and the huge investments Chinese companies are making in developing the country’s infrastructure, citing the $2 billion Sinohydro deal.
“We have a very good relationship with China. Today, the main company that is helping develop the infrastructure system in Ghana is Sinohydro, it is a Chinese Company. It is the one that is going to help process our bauxite and provide about two billion dollars to us… So when there are these kinds of arrangements, there are other things behind the scenes,” the minister stressed.
“Putting that lady (Aisha Huang) in jail in Ghana is not going to solve your economic problems. It is not going to make you happy or me happy, that’s not important, the most important thing is that she has been deported out of Ghana,” added that.
Aisha and four of her Chinese employees were arraigned before the court on May 9, 2017, for engaging in illegal small-scale mining at Bepotenten in the Amansie Central District in the Ashanti Region.
She was charged with three counts of undertaking small-scale mining operations, contrary to Section 99 (1) of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703); providing mining support services without valid registration with the Minerals Commission, contrary to the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), and the illegal employment of foreign nationals, contrary to the Immigration Act, 2000 (Act 573).
The other four accused persons were charged with disobedience of directives given by or under the Immigration Act, 2000 (Act 573).
The state’s decision to discontinue the case much later saw the court discharge the five accused persons.
Aisha Huang and the four others were subsequently deported to China in what some Ghanaians said was a betrayal especially as the government vowed to deal with illegal miners whose actions had destroyed the country’s land and water bodies.
Discontinuation of Aisha Huang’s case saved Ghana money
The former secretary for the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, Charles Bissue while in office backed the Attorney General’s decision to discontinue the prosecution of Aisha Huang.
Mr. Bissue, who said he did not know why the charges were dropped, said the Attorney General’s decision would spare the state the cost of prosecution.
“Prosecution is good, but once you are prosecuting you are using the taxpayers’ money and I don’t think we have to be to be burdened with that,” he said to Citi News.