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General News of Friday, 26 April 2019


Government never exchanged Aisha Huang for Sinohydro Agreement - Minister

The Government on Thursday said Aisha Huang, a Chinese national, who was being prosecuted for engaging in illegal small-scale mining, was not deported in exchange of the two-billion-dollar Sinohydro Bauxite Agreement for infrastructural development.

Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, the Lands and Natural Resources Minister, addressing a news conference, in Accra, said it was not only Aisha who was deported; but 194 other foreigners since the imposition of the ban on ‘Galamsey’ in 2017, as part of efforts to restore sanity to the system.

They included Nigerians, Burkinabes, Malians and Chinese, “We did not sacrifice Aisha Huang or exchange her for the Sinohydro loan,” he explained.

“This lady was in Ghana prior to the arrangement we made with the Chinese Government to secure the financial assistance from them.

“And no government official thought of shielding or pampering her in one way, or the other so that she can perpetrate the illegal mining she was found to be doing in Ghana,” the Minister said.

The Minister, however, explained that the Attorney-General was clothed with law to file a nolle prosequi in court to discontinue any case without disclosing the basis or reason for the discontinuation, adding that it was thus not the first time a trial involving a foreigner had been truncated in Ghana.

The Minister’s comments was in reaction to some comments reported to have been made by Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Senior Minister, at a Town Hall Meeting in the United States recently, which has been interpreted by critics to mean that the jailing of Aisha Huang would not serve the interest of the nation, considering the good relations between Ghana and China, especially with regard to the Sinohydro deal.

The Senior Minister’s comments have attracted wide public condemnation from the public, especially from members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), which is asking him to apologise or resign.

Giving an update on measures the Government had put in place to prevent the continued pollution of the water bodies by illegal miners, the Lands Minister said 220 mining guards had been trained at the Ghana Police Training Academy to be deployed soon to the various mining communities to maintain sanity in the sector.

So far, about 300 excavators have been confiscated from illegal miners; while some Ghanaians and foreigners are standing trial in various courts across the country.

The World Bank, Mr Asomah-Cheremeh said, had pledged to support the Government with 100-million-dollars towards the implementation of the Multi-Sectoral Integrated Mining Project.

In line with this, the Deputy Minister of Lands in-charge of Mining was in France to sign the necessary documents to secure the funds.

Asked whether or not the Ministry was aware that some members of Operation Vanguard, the joint security taskforce against Galamsey were assisting some foreigners to undertake illegal mining, Mr Asomah-Cheremeh said no concrete evidence had been adduced to support that claim and praised the Taskforce for their efforts in minimising the menace.

The Government lifted the ban on small-scale mining in December 19, last year, and asked all certified small-scale miners to register their concessions and equipment with the Minerals Commission and the Inter-Ministerial Committee Against Illegal Small-Scale Mining.