The judge presiding over the case involving Chinese Galamsey Queen Aisha Huang has expressed fears that the country stands to lose if illegal mining activities persist.
The trial judge Samuel Bright Appiah said this after denying the 47-year-old Aisha Huang and three others bail.
“This is an activity that is destroying our water bodies. Look at how it is destroying our forests. We, the humans, are complaining. The animals in the forest are suffering. It’s very sad. If this should go on, the Ghana Water Company will soon shut down, and we would have to import water to drink. Every Ghanaian must help deal with illegal miners. I pray other courts will take a hard stance against such persons.
“[With] A1 especially, (Referring to Aisha Huang) how she entered the country, we can’t even tell. If I grant them bail now and tomorrow, the case is called, and she can’t be found, what happens? The motion for bail is refused,” the judge said sternly.
The 47-year-old Aisha Huang, who became popular after her arrest in May 2017 and was tagged as Galamsey Queen, was charged with three others — Jong Li Hua, Huang Jei and Huiad Hiahu for engaging in illegal mining activities.
Prior to the judge’s ruling, Aisha Huang’s defence team, led by Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey, had again made a passionate appeal for bail.
“At the last adjourned date on September 14, I remember the prosecutor used a very convincing expression that investigation is ongoing, creating an impression as though work was being done. My lord, you gave them two weeks to assemble all evidence and come today. But today, we are here, and the prosecutor is not even here.
“Rather, he has a funeral while our clients are in custody. I pray that four weeks in custody is on the high side. I pray you to admit them to bail. The issue before you is mining without a licence and trading in minerals without a licence. I don’t seek to bore you, but where is the evidence? Why should it take more than one month to deal with this case?
“I urge you strongly, my lord, not to be bothered by what is happening outside this courtroom. There is so much garbage going on in the media about this simple case before you. My lord, this is not a murder case. Or is it because they are foreigners?
“We should know there are Ghanaians all over the world and the same measure of justice that we expect them to have, we should do the same to foreigners in the country. I’m pleading with you to admit them to bail. We shall meet state conditions set for them,” Counsel for the accused stressed.
The prosecution, however, disagreed. They insisted the facts presented to the court so far make a compelling case for the refusal of bail.
“The fact is that these persons have been charged, and further investigations show they entered this country illegally. That is enough to draw a conclusion that they have no fixed place of abode, let alone gainfully employed.
“We invite you to avert your mind to the fact that in as much as they deserve justice, the laws of the land which have been desecrated also deserve justice. They should be remanded as we continue with investigations,” the prosecution said.
The case has been adjourned to 12 October 2022.
Facts of the case
As narrated in court, the complainants are security and intelligence officers, and the accused persons are Chinese nationals.
The prosecution said Aisha had gained “notoriety” for engaging in a series of small-scale mining activities known as galamsey across the country.
It said in 2017, Aisha was arrested for a similar offence, but she managed to “sneak out” of the country, averting prosecution.
The prosecution said early this year, Aisha “sneaked” into Ghana, having changed the details on her Chinese passport.
The suspect is said to have applied for a Togo visa and went through the borders into Ghana.
Aisha then resumed small-scale mining activities without a license and further engaged in the purchase and sale of minerals in Accra without valid authority as granted by the Minerals and Mining Act.
The prosecution said she engaged in the sale and purchase of minerals with the three accused persons and that intelligence led to their arrest.
What are the charges?
- Undertaking a mining operation without a licence contrary to section 99(2)(a) of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, Act 703 as amended by the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act 2019, Act 995.
- Facilitating the participation of persons engaged in a mining operation contrary to section 99 (2)(a) & (3) of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, Act 703 as amended by the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act 2019, Act 995
- Illegal employment of foreign nationals contrary to section 24 of the Immigration Act, 2000 (Act 573)
- Entering Ghana while prohibited from re-entry contrary to section 20(4) of the Immigration Act, 2000, Act 573.