Former Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini has said the idea of jailing some Ghanaian illegal miners while foreigners engaged in similar operations are left off the hook is unfair and must be stopped.
“It is unjust to incarcerate Ghanaians for violating the law and letting go of foreigners. Foreigners are not allowed to engage in small-scale mining. Ghanaians have the right to apply for and obtain licenses to engage in small scale mining,” he said in an interview on CitiNews.
His comments come as a justification to former President John Dramani Mahama’s promise to grant amnesty to all incarcerated illegal miners under the Akufo-Akufo-led government, once elected.
John Mahama while making reference to Aisha Huan, an illegal mining kingpin, in an interaction with chiefs and people of Mpohor Constituency in Western Region, October 22, 2020, made a solemn promise to free all jailed illegal miners.
He said “Today, they are still in prison. That Chinese galamsey queen was arrested but left to go free. She was never prosecuted but our people are in jail suffering. When we come, we shall grant all those arrested and jailed some amnesty…It’s sad. The government said it was fighting galamsey, and they arrested, prosecuted, and jailed Ghanaians who were engaged in that activity but left the Chinese woman.
But his statement has received major backlash from a member of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Speaking on the constitutionality of the former president’s promise, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini said it is within the president’s power to pardon persons who go contrary to the provisions of the law.
However, he was quick to add that John Mahama and his future government will put measures in place to adequately regulate small-scale mining to benefit the Ghanaian people and not foreigners.
“It is within the prerogative powers of the president to forgive persons who have been incarcerated for breaking the law. These people should know that there is somebody who cares for them. This is not to spite the NPP, the problem we have with small scale mining is how to regulate it for the benefit of Ghanaians. We have come to the conclusion that we cannot continue to prohibit Ghanaians from doing so,” Alhaji Fuseini argued.