President Nana Akufo-Addo says the government’s decision to deport Chinese national, Aisha Huang after her reported involvement in illegal mining was a mistake.
“I think the decision to deport Aisha Huang in hindsight was a mistake and that is why that process and procedure is being stopped,” he said at a forum at Princeton University in the United States during his visit to the United States of America.
Aisha Huang gained some notoriety after her arrest in May 2017 and was tagged as the Galamsey Queen.
She had been 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).
During the prosecution, the government controversially discontinued the case and deported her in December 2018.
More controversy followed when the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo, at a town hall meeting in the US suggested that Aisha Huang did not face the full rigours of the law for diplomatic reasons.
But with recent developments in legislation to fight illegal mining, the President does not expect such a mistake to occur again.
A foreigner engaged in illegal mining now faces a term of imprisonment of not less than 20 years and not more than 25 years per the amended Minerals and Mining Act.
“The response to that has been the amendment of the law that… enhances sanctions for people; both Ghanaians and foreigners who are engaged [in illegal mining].”
Government officials in Galamsey
The President was responding to a question from a Ghanaian resident in the US state of Colorado, who also asked the President about reports of his own officials being involved in illegal mining.
He also claimed he had evidence implicating some government officials.
But President Nana Akufo-Addo questioned why the Ghanaian, one Solomon Owusu, had not come forward with his evidence.
People make these statements but they never come forward to produce the evidence. It is difficult but if you have it, why do you keep it, why don’t you send it to the authorities in Ghana…what is the purpose of this information you have on you in Colorado? It is needed in Accra, not in Colorado.”
The President stressed that he was “interested in getting hold of information that will allow a proper investigation to be carried out, and then the consequences taken.”