One of the sites where the illegal miners operate. One of the sites where the illegal miners operate.
One of the sites where the illegal miners operate. One of the sites where the illegal miners operate.

By Jack Adom

illegal miners
illegal miners

People in the Obuasi communities have been asking questions on why the Obuasi police and the judiciary have been treating clear cases of illegal mining with kid gloves by not dishing appropriate sentences and punishment to illegal miners. They believe that they are comrades in arms.

They accused the Obuasi police and judiciary for eating from the palm of illegal miners and not fighting the menace which is tearing Obuasi apart through the support for illegal mining in the Obuasi municipality. According to people they are angry that the illegal miners in Obuasi, who nearly killed 8 AngloGold Ashanti security personnel ?was given one month sentence, while 4 illegal miners in Tarkwa were handed a total of 80 years.

GNA news last week confirmed that four illegal miners, dressed in military uniform and robbed two men of their gold and a Nokia mobile phone, were sentenced to a total of 80 years imprisonment in hard labour by a Tarkwa Circuit Court. ?The convicts ? Ibrahim Adam, 28; Ibrahim Nurudeen; 26, Ebenezer Baah, 19; and Abraham Boamah 37, all pleaded guilty to robbery; whereas in Obuasi an illegal miner who nearly killed eight AngloGold Ashanti security personnel has been literally? set free out of court by Alexander Graham the Obuasi magistrate..

Police Detective Chief Inspector Oscar Amponsah told the court presided over by Mr Samuel Obeng Diawuo that the first complainant, Nana Amponsah Okobeng, owns a small-scale mining company at Himan, near Prestea, while the second and third complainants, Charles Kankam and Emmanuel Odajo Teye, are illegal miners in the same vicinity. According to the prosecutor, in the first week of April last year, personnel of the national security, consisting of military and policemen embarked on the exercise to clamp down illegal Chinese miners. The team proceeded to the first complainant?s site but could not trace any of the Chinese miners.

In their absence, six men, including the convicts, dressed in military uniform, came to the mining site and met the second and third complainants, who were carrying out illegal mining within the concession with other colleagues. Detective Amponsah said the convicts and their accomplices threatened to kill Charles and Emmanuel with cutlasses if they did not surrender the gold and money they had on them.

With the death threat, the men succeeded in taking away a mobile phone and six blades of gold, all valued GHC 570. Charles and Emmanuel reported the matter to the security guards at the mining site and the first complainant called the police on phone. When the police got to the scene, the first complainant and his workers had already arrested the convicts with three cutlasses and military uniform. The Prosecutor said Boamah managed to escape arrest with a pump action gun belonging to Nana Amponsah Okobeng, but he was later arrested.

The Obuasi communities are worried the 20 – year illegal miner who nearly killed 8 AngloGold Ashanti Security Officers with powerful explosives last march was sentenced to one month imprisonment with option to pay GHC 300. The illegal miner Alabila Attiah who was arrested at Obuasi underground mine was illegally drilling and blasting with his illegal mining syndicate when the AGA underground security petrol team chanced on them.

Almost all the illegal miners took to their heels, but to scare the security team from arresting him and his gang, Alabila lighted and hurled two powerful explosives unto the security team, which could have killed the security team. The court, presided over by Alexander Graham virtually freed him by sentencing him to only one month imprisonment with an option of GHC300.

Prosecuting the case at a magistrate court in Obuasi, ASP Kwabena Darko of the Obuasi police service said Alabila was arrested for ?unlawful entry on the mine but ?he did not mention that Alabila was arrested with illegal explosives underground?, a legal expert explained. The communities want the Inspectator General of Police and the Chief Justice to investigate the activities of these personnel in the municipality and how Alabila was allowed to go virtually free with such a light sentence.

Nana Kwabena Amoah, an opinion leader at Tututka believes that such sentences only emboldens illegal miners to pursue their nefarious activities after all, they have in their minds that the police is there for them and the courts cannot punish them?.? This perhaps explains why the police have not been able to prosecute hundreds of illegal mining cases in Obuasi. Abdul Mohammed, 60 – year old businessman and a former employee of AngloGold Ashanti ?who was once robbed? and beaten by illegal miners at Bongobiri,? a suburb of Obuasi. According to him the only way to rid illegal miners from Obuasi is to cleanse the police administration in Obuasi as ?they smoke and eat together, they give the illegal miners protection and also receive money from the illegal miners? .

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