The Member of Parliament for Builsa South in the Upper East Region believes the government of Ghana deported notorious Chinese illegal miner, Aisha Huang, because of grants and other favours the country stands to gain from the Asian country.
Dr Clement Apaak, who is convinced the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) government is not committed to fighting illegal mining (galamsey), said on Ete Sen on Radio XYZ that Aisha who was also known as ‘Galamsey Queen’ was left off the hook mainly because of the selfish interest of some appointees of the Akufo-Addo led administration.
The former presidential staffer under the erstwhile Mahama administration was reacting to the controversy surrounding a comment Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo made in the U.S regarding the circumstances that led to the repatriation of the notorious galamsey queen.
“…Putting that lady (Aisha) in jail in Ghana is not going to solve your economic problems,” Mr Osafo-Maafo said and added “We have a very good relationship with China. 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 two billion dollars to us.”
The Senior minister continued, “…I am saying that there are many other things beyond what we see in these matters and everybody is wide awake, the most important thing is that we have banned this (illegal mining), we have established regulations and we are protecting our environment. That is far more important than one Chinese woman who has been deported out of the country”.
Despite the backlash the top government official has received from Ghanaians, Dr Clement Apaak believes he [Osafo-Maafo] told an “inconvenient truth.”
He explained to host Kwame Minkah on Friday that the goodies the government will get from China will prevent the government from prosecuting Chinese nationals who are engaging in galamsey.
Aisha Huang was put before court on May 9, 2017, for engaging in galamsey activities. The case was being pursued until the Attorney General filed to discontinue it.
Denying the claim, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Kwaku Asoma-Cheremeh whose office directly supervises the galamsey fight said government did not exchange Aisha Huang for Chinese grants.
“Aisha Huang was not part of the discussion when the delegation met with the Chinese officials to negotiate the deal,” he said to pressmen on Thursday.
Although he was not part of the government delegation that negotiated the $2bn Sinohydro deal, he had been briefed about it.
“We did not sacrifice or exchange her for the loan…this lady was in Ghana prior to the arrangement that we made with the Chinese government to secure the financial assistance from them,” he said.
He also announced the government had deported 194 persons of various nationalities including Nigerians, Burkinabes, Malians and other West African nationals in connection with galamsey.
But Dr Apaak disagreed with the Minister’s remark, stressing “this issue of galamsey has not been prosecuted as it should be.” He also pointed that the Chinese are the reason the government is not able to fight illegal mining as deserved.
He criticised Mr Asomah-Cheremeh for attempting to defend Mr Osafo-Maafo for the comment he made, saying “a junior minister cannot defend” the statement of the senior minister.
Dr Apaak maintained the comment from Mr Osafo-Maafo though was the “inconvenient truth,” it exposed the government as one that is unwilling to combat the canker to save the country’s lands and water bodies.