The Media Coalition Against Illegal Mining has said government’s discontinuation of prosecution of Aisha Huang is a fatal blow to illegal mining.
According to Ken Ashigbey, government must immediately correct the negative impression created by its action on Miss Huang –known popularly as ‘Galamsey Queen’ – and subsequent comments by the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo.
Addressing a townhall meeting abroad recently, the Senior Minister said Ghana has great diplomatic relationship with China and intends to partner them in key infrastructural projects citing the $2 billion Sinohydro deal.
“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 $2 billion to us,” he said.
"So, when there are these kinds of arrangements, there are other things behind the scenes. Putting that lady [Aisha] in jail in Ghana is not going to solve your economic problems,” he said.
The comments have since attracted fierce criticism.
Mr Ashigbey also notes that the message the Senior Minister’s comment sends is critical.
“Messaging is so important. The message that comes from what the Senior Minister has said is a fatal blow to the fight against galamsey. It is very demotivating to everyone who is involved in this.
“I think there should be a correction of it from the minister of information right down to the president, something needs to be done about it,” the convener of the coalition told Joy News in an interview Thursday.
Galamseyers at work
Mr. Ashigbey argued that the damage caused to the nation’s natural resources through the activities of galamseyers is far more than the two billion dollars which the Chinese may be giving the country in loans.
“To hear the Senior Minister, somebody who has seen a lot of seasons, somebody who has a lot more experience than we have, give this justification that for two billion dollars we are prepared to sacrifice 2.96 billion dollars damage that has been done to us is worrying,” he said.
He added that “It is important to realize that as a country our today and our future is more important than the broth that we get today.”
According to Mr Ashigbey the arrest of Aisha presented the country its biggest opportunity to effectively addressed the galamsey issue.
Of Aisha Huang, Ken Ashigbey said she was “not one of those small fishes you find in the galamsey pit eking for a living. From the information we have gotten she was one of the financiers behind it.
“So for once, we wanted to ensure that we have gotten somebody that if you dealt with you would have done away with the supply of resources to these galamsey operators. So for us to hear this nolle prosequi is for me one of the lowest ebbs in this galamsey fight,” he said in exhalation.