Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor, has said that Chinese galamsey kingpin, Aisha Huang will face the full rigors of the law and spend jail time in Ghana if found guilty of engaging in illegal mining activities popularly referred to as galamsey.
In an interview on Face to Face, a program on Accra-based Citi TV, the minister expressed optimism in the evidence he is privy to, stating that he was confident it could land the Chinese national a conviction.
According to him, this can be made possible following the Akufo-Addo-led administration’s reformation of the laws to proffer tougher and stiffer sanctions on persons, particularly foreigners, who engage in illicit activity.
He indicated for instance that judges under Act 995 can no longer have the discretion to award fines against foreigners who are found on the wrong side of the law.
“Aisha Huang has been arrested today. She is being prosecuted and she will be prosecuted under Ghanaian law, Ghanaian court. If she is found guilty and I believe she should and would be found, I believe so…I hope so and I am not making a prejudicial comment but given the facts that I have, I am expecting that Aisha Huang will be found guilty, convicted, and sentenced and thrown into Ghanaian jail.
“That should become possible because of the substantive legislative and policy intervention that the government of President Akufo-Addo is putting in place. If we did not, a judge would have had the discretion to fine her for example and there’s nothing that the government could have done.
“Working with Parliament, we brought Act 995 which ousted the discretion from a judge sitting in court to mete out a fine to a foreigner who is found to be involved in illegal mining activities,” Abu Jinapor said.
The minister who also doubles as the Member of Parliament for Damongo also said the focus of the galamsey fight should not be on only Aisha Huang.
He mentioned that the government was doing its bit to arrest all foreign nationals who are engaged in galamsey.
He disclosed that 154 foreign nationals for example were arrested by the state security service in the course of the week.
“Not just related to Aisha Huang but generally deal with foreigners. Three or four days ago, we arrested 154 foreigners who were involved in illegal small-scale mining, and even how to keep them was a problem…Aisha Huang’s case should not be looked at in isolation, it should be looked at in the context of foreigners being involved in Ghanaian criminality and how we deal with it.
He suggested that it is not true “the assumption that the President’s whole might and effort revolve around Aisha Huang.”
Aisha Huang was recently arrested for engaging in galamsey-related activities. She is reported to have entered the country via the Togo border after her deportation.
She appeared in court on September 14 together with three other accomplices to answer the state’s charge against them.
The initial charges were mining without a valid license and engaging in the sale and purchase of minerals without a permit.
They pleaded not guilty and were remanded into police custody and set to reappear on September 27.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General last Friday, filed four new charges against Ms. Huang. The new charges are undertaking a mining operation without a license, facilitating the participation of persons engaged in a mining operation, and the illegal employment of foreigners and entering Ghana while prohibited from re-entry.