In October, 2020, then flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama had promised the people of Odum-Banso in the Western Region that when voted into power, he will grant amnesty to all arrested galamsey operators.
Addressing the Chiefs and people of the community, he had stated that his administration will give these offenders a second chance to better their lives as the NPP administration had dealt poorly with them.
“When we come into power, I will grant amnesty to everyone who was arrested for operating in Galamsey. I believe that these operators are remorseful towards any unlawful activities, so we will give them another chance.”
Reacting to a rehash of the statement on JoyNews’ PM Express during a discussion about the lack of political will to quash galamsey once and for all, former Minister for Lands and Natural Resources says the former President’s statements should not be taken out of context.
According to him, John Mahama’s statements had come on the back of the repatriation of En Huang, popularly known as Aisha Huang after she was discovered engaging in illegal mining.
He explained that the failure of the NPP government to ensure that Aisha Huang faced the full strength of the law was akin to discriminating against Ghanaians who had been arrested for engaging in similar crime, thus the need to right the wrong by granting amnesty to the arrested Ghanaians.
He said, “And even now the re-emergence and re-arrest of Aisha Huang has brought into sharp focus our treatment of Ghanaians at the galamsey sites. What he said in 2020 was that it was totally unacceptable to grant amnesty to foreigners who are engaged in illegalities and imprison Ghanaians.
“You were infringing the constitutional provisions, you were treating people differently based on status. That’s discrimination. So simply his answer to that was that well if a Chinese citizen can be given amnesty, not prosecuted for an offense that a Ghanaian has committed and is languishing in jail, when I come I will even it up. I will give them amnesty. That was the context.
“It was not because he just felt that he should give them amnesty to go back and do the work. He was responding to a situation which clearly, clearly discriminated against Ghanaians who were arrested on the small scale mining sites.”
Inusah Fuseini further stated that even as the former President was promising to grant amnesty to arrested galamsey miners, he was in no way condoning their activities.
“But John Dramani Mahama has always maintained that where there is a legal regime that makes it possible for a Ghanaian to engage in small scale mining pursuant to the laws of the country, it is totally unacceptable for any person to take the law into his own hands and act with impunity,” he said.
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