Head of Monitoring at government’s taskforce against illegal mining, Galamstop, Francis Assibu says National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) Presidential candidate, John Mahama’s rhetoric about releasing arrested illegal miners from prison would only hurt the country’s efforts in stopping illegal mining.

According to him, as president, Mahama reserves the right to grant clemency to any prisoner, however, granting amnesty to imprisoned illegal miners will greatly undermine the fight against galamsey.

“I think as president with such executive powers he has the right to pardon and then grant amnesty to all levels of criminals in custody. But for now, he’s not, so I don’t think it is an issue we should be so much talking about. Because if he is, it is his choice.”

He further described John Mahama’s statement as “a choice between national security and economic values”.

Responding to Mahama’s proposal to reform the mining industry and provide training for released illegal miners and other small scale miners during his tenure, Mr. Assibu stated that his proposal was no different from what the Akufo-Addo government is currently implementing, except the release of illegal miners from prison.

“That is what this government has done. Community mining programmes have taken place at Tarkwa and so on and so forth and so it’s not anything new. The only new thing his Excellency [Mahama] is talking about is freeing them, of course, that will be within his powers if elected as president.”

He stated that should Mahama eventually release the illegal miners, it will indicate an end to the fight against galamsey.

“Then simply it means in his time there’ll be no fight. We have fought it and then ended somewhere and if his choice of approach to the situation is to release them in his administration, then that is it.”

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